by EBSCO Medical Review Board


Calcific tendonitis is a build-up of calcium in the tendons in the shoulder.

Tendons of the Shoulder
Rotator cuff labeled
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


It is caused by a build up of calcium in the tendons. It is not known why this happens in some people.

Risk Factors

This is more common in people who are 40 to 60 years of age. It is also more common in women.


Symptoms may be:

  • Pain that starts quickly
  • Pain moving the shoulder
  • A stiff shoulder
  • Problems moving the shoulder
  • Pain that makes it hard to sleep
  • Loss of muscle mass


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your shoulder. A doctor who treats bones may be needed.

Images may be taken of your shoulder. This can be done with an x-ray.


Most people get better in time. Other options may be:

Initial Care

Initial care may be:

  • Rest to help the shoulder heal
  • Ice or heat to ease pain and swelling
  • An arm sling to keep the shoulder in place as it heals
  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • Medicine injected in the shoulder to help it heal and ease pain and swelling
  • Exercises to make the shoulder stronger and help it to move better

Breaking Up Deposits

Calcium deposits may be broken up with:

  • Needles that flush the area with saltwater
  • Ultrasound or shockwave therapy


Some people may need surgery to remove the deposits. This can be done with arthroscopy. It uses small incisions and tools to view and remove the deposits.


It is not known why this happens in some people. This are no guidelines to prevent it.


Arthroscopy Association of North America 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 


Canadian Orthopaedic Association 

Health Canada 


Calcific tendonitis. Internet Society of Orthopaedic Surgery & Trauma website. Available at: Updated September 4, 2015. Accessed September 23, 2019.

De Carli A, Pulcinelli F, et al. Calcific tendinitis of the shoulder. Joints. 2014 Jul-Sep;2(3):130-136.

Escamilla RF, Hooks TR, et al. Optimal management of shoulder impingement syndrome. Open Access J Sports Med. 2014;5:13-24.

Impingement of the shoulder. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: Updated February 2011. Accessed September 23, 2019.

Rotator cuff impingement. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated June 20, 2018. Accessed September 23, 2019.

Revision Information