Calcifying Tendinitis Clinical Presentation

Updated: Apr 14, 2020
  • Author: Anthony H Woodward, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Calcifying tendinitis can be asymptomatic, discovered serendipitously by an imaging study. Symptomatic calcifying tendinitis may present in the following 3 ways:

  1. Chronic, relatively mild pain with intermittent flares

  2. Mechanical symptoms may arise from a large calcific deposit, which may block elevation of the shoulder.

  3. More severe acute pain is attributed to the inflammatory response of the resorptive phase.

The pain commonly radiates from the point of the shoulder to the deltoid insertion and, less frequently, to the neck or elbow. It is often aggravated by elevation of the arm above shoulder level or by lying on the shoulder. Pain may waken the patient from sleep. Other possible complaints are stiffness, snapping, catching, or weakness of the shoulder.


Physical Examination

Patients with chronic or subacute symptoms may demonstrate loss of range of motion, a painful arc of motion from 70-110º of forward elevation, or impingement signs. Catching or crepitus may be noted. In the acute phase, the pain may be so severe that only little movement is allowed, and the tenderness is very marked.



Complications of calcifying tendinitis include the following: 

  • Secondary frozen shoulder: Limited range of shoulder motion, which can be treated with manual therapies, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and intra-articular steroid injections. [9]

    2. Rotator cuff tear: In one review full-thickness tears were found in 4% of patients at an average of 9 years after treatment; however, the tears could be due just to the passage of years. [4]