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Calcific tendonitis

Hydroxyapatite deposition disease (HADD)

A condition characterised by calcium deposits in the shoulder that causes pain and inflammation


Calcific tendonitis occurs in the tendons of the rotator cuff. The condition occurs when calcium deposits form on the tendons of your shoulder. The tissue around the deposits can become inflamed, causing significant shoulder pain. This condition is fairly common and mostly affects people over the age of 40.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of calcific tendonitis icon plus

    Symptoms change depending on the stage at which you are at in the development of the condition. These might include:

    • mild to moderate pain while the calcium is being deposited
    • significant pain when the deposits are reabsorbed into the tendons of your shoulder
    • stiffness in the shoulder and difficulty raising your arm
    • interrupted sleep as a consequence of the pain
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will take your medical history and conduct a physical examination of your shoulder. Imaging tests may be required to confirm calcific tendonitis . These might include:

    • X-rays to identify the exact location of any calcium deposits in your shoulder
    • an ultrasound scan to identify the presence of calcium deposits

    Your consultant may need to take multiple X-rays over a period of time to check the development of the condition and determine whether surgery is necessary.

  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    • Anti-inflammatory medication for mild to moderate pain. If the pain is acute your consultant may recommend a steroid injection (cortisone). Resting the arm and shoulder is also advised.
    • Shockwave therapy. This involves using high energy sound or pressure waves, which can alter the pain while the deposits are reabsorbed. -
    • Barbotage. This involves removing a deposit by sucking it into a syringe with ultrasound guidance. You may also need surgery, usually arthroscopy. A small incision is made in the shoulder, before a tiny camera and surgical instrument is inserted to remove the deposits. This is more likely with large deposits that have damaged the rotator cuff tendons.
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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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