What is calcific tendonitis?

Sometimes calcium forms in tendons where it would not ordinarily occur. In the shoulder it most often forms in the ‘supraspinatus’ tendon. No one really understands why, but it can appear following an episode of tendon inflammation. It can cause severe pain, particularly in the early, acute phase. Typically, the calcium will cause pain as long it is present. The natural course is for the calcium to eventually disappear, but this may take years.

How is it treated?

The most common and successful treatment for patients with calcific tendonitis is to use a needle to either suck the calcium out, called ‘barbotage’, or break the calcium up using ‘dry needling’. This is carried out by a consultant radiologist using ultrasound to guide the needle into the calcium. Barbotage is only possible in the early stages of calcific tendonitis when the calcium is soft.