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Calcified shoulder

Chiropractic CHIROfamily

Calcified shoulder

A calcified shoulder means that there are deposits of calcium crystals in tendons that attach to the humeral head of the shoulder joint (rotator cuff). The calcium deposits can more or less form large deposits that often cause shoulder pain.

The cause of calcification is a decreased blood flow around certain tendons that over time forms calcific deposits. Another cause may be that the tendons (tendon degeneration) fail to heal properly as a part of the normal aging process and consequently form calcific deposits.

Calcium deposits at the shoulder joint do not always cause pain. Excessive calcium deposits, however, often result in painful inflammation of the bursa in the shoulder joint.

Initially the pain is only felt with certain movements, especially with overhead activities and rotary movements of the arm. Over time, the pain increases and becomes acute even at night or during resting periods. This pain most often radiates into the upper arm.

The irritation in the joint also leads frequently to inflammation of the bursa in the shoulder joint. Occasionally there are quite severe pain attacks, and interestingly enough, these attacks happen when the calcium deposits drain spontaneously. Extreme changes in pain with acute exacerbations are typical of the condition.

The first step is a comprehensive physical examination. An ultrasound examination of the shoulder can usually clarify whether the shoulder is indeed calcified. A diagnosis is most often possible after these examinations. Additional X-rays might, however, be necessary, to show the extent of the calcification more clearly. There is no strict correlation between the size of the calcium deposit and the amount of pain.

Treatment should at any rate start with conservative – nonsurgical measures. First attempts are cooling and anti-inflammatory drugs (ointments, tablets or injections), to relieve the pain.

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