Rotator Cuff Therapy Exercises

Rotator Cuff Calcific Tendonitis

Rotator cuff calcific tendinitis, sometimes referred to as rotator cuff calcification is a unique condition that appears to affect only the rotator cuff tendon.

Rotator cuff calcific tendinitis is one of the most painful conditions to affect a rotator cuff tendon.

It is a specific condition that is related to rotator cuff tendonitis but has distinct causes and treatments.

In this section I would like to talk to you about rotator cuff calcific tendinitis.

I want you to be able to understand exactly what this condition is.

How rotator cuff calcification occurs, where it occurs, how and why it occurs and most importantly what you can do to relieve the symptoms.

What is rotator cuff calcific tendinitis?

Rotator cuff calcific tendinitis relates to a build-up of calcium in the rotator cuff tendon; otherwise known as a calcific deposit.

When calcium builds up in the rotator cuff tendon, it causes a build up of pressure in the rotator cuff tendon, as well as causing a chemical irritation.

This quite simply leads to pain and with this particular condition the pain can be quite intense.

calcific deposit on on rotator cuff < - - - Calcific deposit on the rotator cuff tendon

In addition to the chemical irritation and presssure, the rotator cuff calcification process reduces the space between the rotator cuff tendon and the acromion.

This is in addition to it affecting the normal function of the rotator cuff tendon.

This can lead to an increase in subacromial impingement.

Or, put more simply, rotator cuff calcification reduces the space between the acromion and the calcium deposit in the rotator cuff tendon when lifting the arm overhead.

calcific tendonitis on rotator cuff

X-ray of rotator cuff calcific tendinitis

calcific tendonitis on rotator cuff

Ultrasound of rotator cuff calcific tendinitis

What Causes rotator cuff calcific tendinitis?

Exactly why rotator cuff calcification occurs is still not well understood. Doctors and scientists can not agree on why the condition develops and why this condition only affects rotator cuff tendon.

Most ideas suggest that rotator cuff calcification is caused by lack of good blood flow to the tendon or increasing age; however there is no definitive scientific evidence to support either theory.

How does rotator cuff calcific tendonitis develop?

What is known about rotator cuff calcification is that the condition follows a cycle. There are three distinct stages through which the condition progresses.
  • 1. Pre calcification stage - The area in which calcium will be deposited begins to undergo cellular changes that predispose the rotator cuff tendon to developing calcium deposits. No symptoms are felt at this stage.

  • 2. Calcific stage - During this phase calcium is excreted from cells and forms the calcium deposit. Once a deposit is formed a resting period begins, again no symptoms are generally detected. There is then a distinct period when the deposit is re absorbed. This period is the most painful period.

  • 3. Postcalcific stage - The calcific deposit begins to disappear and is replaced by more normal rotator cuff tendon.

Treatment of rotator cuff calcific tendinitis

The treatment of rotator cuff calcific tendonitis follows a lot of the same basic methods as the treatment of rotator cuff tendonitis.
  • 1. Rest

  • 2. RICE

  • 3. Anti Inflammatory and pain relieving medication.

  • 4. Physiotherapy exercises to improve the strength of the rotator cuff
It is if the condition persists that further attention may be required. The other options available include
  • 1. Cortisone injection in an attempt to control the pain.

  • 2. Ultrasound guided Lavage - The calcium deposit is injected with a salt water solution in an attempt to break it down. The residue is then sucked out using the syringe.

  • 3. Surgery - A last resort. During surgery the calcium deposit is removed, please take a look at the video below. Once that has been done the surgeon will generally increase the space between the tendons to remove restrictions on movement.

Arthroscopic release of calcific deposit.

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