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Acute Calcific Tendinitis


Cause is unknown, but may be due to ischaemia and reduction in the normal inhibitory factors of crystal deposition. Calcium phosphate crystals are deposited in degenerated or inflamed soft tissues


  • Usually young adult (25 - 45 years)
  • Dull aching pain, sometimes following overuse
  • Pain increases in severity rising to an agonising climax, however the process may be less dramatic and recovery slower
  • Usually will not allow movement during acute stage


  • Calcification above the greater tuberosity of the humerus
  • As pain subsides the calcification gradually disappears


  • Deposits of calcium phosphate appear in the supraspinatus tendon near its insertion, other sites may also be involved
  • Symptoms are due not to the calcium, but a florid vascular reaction, with which it is associated
  • Resorption of the calcium is rapid and it may soften or disappear entirely within a few weeks


  • Anti-inflammatories and symptomatic treatment
  • Spontaneous recovery usually occurs
  • May obtain significant relief by aspiration of the calcific substance through large bore needle at point of maximal tenderness
  • Injection of corticosteroid and local anaesthetic may be useful, if pain is more intense
  • Operation may occasionally be indicated and the calcific material scooped out
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