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Calcific Tendonitis

  |   Health   |   3 Comments

Therapeutic UltrasoundUltrasound helps calcific tendonitis.

Calcific tendonitis of the shoulder causes pain that is not activity dependent and often severe. Calcium deposits around the shoulder most commonly develop in the supraspinatus tendon. The condition typically occurs in persons between the age of 30 and 50 but a literature search revealed no data on its incidence or on its frequency relative to other causes of shoulder pain.

Patients who have calcific tendonitis of the shoulder who are treated with ultrasound show better short term and long term resolution of calcification and greater short term symptom improvement than those who are not treated, according to a randomized double blind study.

The 54 patients (61 shoulders)  had calcific tendinitis confirmed by x-rays. The treatment group (32 shoulders) had 24  ultrasound treatments, 5 per week for 3 weeks and 3 per week for 3 weeks after that. Controls (29 shoulders) followed a similar schedule of sham ultrasound treatments. Group assignment was by shoulders rather than by patients, so patients with bilateral tendonitis could receive either treatment or both.

A comparison of each patient’s baseline and post treatment shoulder radiographs showed that calcium deposits had resolved in six shoulders in the treatment group and had improved (decreased by at least 50%) in nine; corresponding figures for controls were zero and three. A comparison of each patient’s  baseline and 9 month follow up radiographs revealed calcification had resolved in 13 (42%) shoulders in the treatment group vs. 2 (8%) in controls; improvement occurred in 7 (23%) treatment shoulders and 3 (12%) control shoulders.

Clinical assessments included three measures of pain, range of motion, shoulder strength, ability to perform routine tasks, and quality of life. At the end of therapy,  the treatment group had significantly greater decreases in pain and improvements in quality of life than controls. At 9 months, improvements persisted in both groups, but inter group differences were no longer significant.

This study shows that ultrasound is an extremely safe, non-invasive modality that may greatly benefit those with calcific tendonitis.

Ebenbichler GR, Erdogmus CB, Resch KL, et al; Ultrasound therapy for calcific tendinitis of the shoulder. N Engl J Med 1999;340(20):1533-1538.


  • Brenda | Feb 2, 2018 at 8:09 am

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  • Toronto East X-ray & Ultrasound | Mar 21, 2018 at 2:21 pm

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  • Sang | Dec 30, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Excellent blog here!

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