Calcification of a shoulder tendon is a very common pathology. It tends to affect patients aged 30 to 60. The shoulder pain is general, sometimes with pain in the neck or arm.

Calcification: definition

It is most often a calcification of the supraspinatus, but can be found in all rotator cuff tendons. It is not strictly speaking of a calcification of the shoulder bone, but a deposit of crystals in one of the rotator cuff tendons. The exact origin of these shoulder calcifications is not known. They are not food related. It is important to know that calcifications of the tendons of the shoulder always end up leaving on their own. When they evacuate spontaneously, the pain is extremely sharp.

Shoulder calcification treatments and surgery

Traitements possibles avant d'envisager une opération

Since calcification of the shoulder, as we have seen, will eventually evacuate spontaneously, it is advisable to wait in the first instance.
Infiltration can be performed before considering treatment of shoulder calcification. Shock waves are not very effective. Overall, there is little room for physiotherapy when suffering from calcification of the shoulder.

Shoulder calcification surgery

The procedure is performed by a shoulder surgeon. The surgeon begins with a shoulder arthroscopy, sometimes combining an acromioplasty, then evacuating the calcification (see video).
Depending on the size of the shoulder calcification, the radiologist may suggest evacuation under ultrasound.

Surgery flow

The anaesthetist will first put the nerves near the shoulder to sleep. The shoulder calcification surgery is performed under local anaesthesia, on an outpatient basis: you will only spend a few hours at the clinic.

Rehabilitation: calcification

These dates are only indicative.
All rehabilitation evolves at its own pace.

Week 1 to 3

● Minimum use of the arm (= simple activities of daily living: washing/dressing/eating)

● Arm in a sling for 2 days only

● Self-rehabilitation exercises to be done 5 times a day

● Maximum 30 minutes' walking per day (no long walks)

NB: in 20% of cases, the shoulder is stiff and painful in the third week
(start of capsulitis and an injection is prescribed)

Week 4 to 6

● Picking up light objects

● Nothing heavy, nothing repetitive, no cleaning

● Resume driving

● Self-rehabilitation, all exercises

● Maximum 45 minutes' walking (no long walks)

Week 7 to 12

● Resume housework gradually, cycling/exercise bike, swimming, walking.

● All self-rehabilitation exercises

From 3 months

● Physical activities, carrying loads, DIY, gardening

Natural treatment against calcification

The natural treatment for shoulder calcification is time. As we have seen, shoulder calcification will eventually evacuate of its own accord. We must, therefore, be patient. We will wait for at least a year and several injections in the shoulder before suggesting surgery.

There is little scope for osteopathy in shoulder calcification. On the other hand, it can be useful to treat all the shoulder pain related to muscle contractures.