Shoulder joint



Calcification causes considerable shoulder joint pain. It occurs when there is a build-up of calcium in the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff works to stabilise the humeral head in the shoulder socket. When calcium accumulates in one of the tendons, the rotator cuff is not able to function normally. The calcium deposits trigger inflammation and can also lead to impingement.

What are the symptoms of shoulder calcifications- calcific tendinitis of the shoulder?

Symptoms of calcification include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Difficulty in moving the shoulder
  • Pain irradiating down the arm and very seldom to the hand
  • Pain worsens as you move/rotate your shoulder
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • Poor and limited range of motion

How do you diagnose shoulder calcific tendonitis?

After analysing your medical history and symptoms, a specialised orthopaedic surgeon will conduct a physical exam to assess the motion of your shoulder as well as its stability. Afterwards, your surgeon carries out an x-ray to identify the position and size of the calcification.

How do you treat calcific tendinitis of the shoulder?

Is it reasonable to attempt non-surgical treatment for calcific tendinitis consisting of:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physiotherapy
  • Rest
  • Cortisone injections
  • Lavage therapy (barbotage) attempts to wash out the calcium deposits.

If the pain continues, shoulder surgery in the form of an arthroscopic clean-up of the calcification provides permanent pain relief.


Dr Gabriel Pirjol is an orthopaedic surgeon based in KwaZulu-Natal at St Augustine's Hospital in Durban. He also operates from Westville Hospital and Capital Haematology Hospital.


Telephone: +27 31 202 5463

Email: /

Address : Suite 24 Chelmsford Medical Centre
St Augustine's Hospital
107 J B Marks Road
Berea, 4001
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal