Calcific tendinitis

What is it?

Calcific tendinitis is a very painful condition affecting the shoulder. It is caused by calcium deposits forming in one or more of the rotator cuff tendons.

How do I know if I have it?

Calcific tendinitis can cause severe pain at the front and outer part of the shoulder and upper arm. It can result in severe functional restriction and movement of the shoulder. An X-Ray or ultrasound of the shoulder can usually identify the deposit and confirm a diagnosis.

What can I do about it?

  • Physiotherapy
  • Extra-corporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT)
  • Ultrasound guided needling (barbotage)
  • Arthroscopic excision (keyhole surgery)

Several treatment options have been successful in reducing the size of the calcium deposit, reducing pain and improving function of the shoulder in both the short (6 weeks) and longer term (1-2 years).

Research studies have shown ultrasound guided needling to be more effective over physiotherapy alone or ESWT and physiotherapy. Needling resulted in 72% of patients having complete elimination of the calcium deposit compared to 43% of patients having ESWT in a randomised controlled trial of 62 patients. Patients having needling were also shown to have significantly better shoulder function and improvements in pain than the ESWT group.(1)



  1. Kim, Yang-Soo, Hyo-Jin Lee, Yoon-vin Kim, and Chae-Gwan Kong. “Which Method Is More Effective in Treatment of Calcific Tendinitis in the Shoulder? Prospective Randomized Comparison between Ultrasound-Guided Needling and Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy.” Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery 23, no. 11 (November 2014): 1640–46.
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Dr Avanthi Mandaleson

Specialist Hand & Upper Limb Surgeon​

For all appointments please call (03) 9989 2269


Please note that our practice contact details have now changed.

All Correspondence to:

Skin & Bone Clinic
Glenferrie Private Hospital


Skin & Bone Clinic
Glenferrie Private Hospital


Glenferrie Private Hospital
Warringal Private Hospital
Knox Private Hospital