What causes calcific tendinopathy of the shoulder?
Calcific tendinitis of the shoulder is an acute or chronic painful condition due to the presence of calcific deposits inside or around the tendons of the rotator cuff (deep muscles and tendons supporting the shoulder joint). More specifically, it is caused by the deposition of calcium hydroxyapatite crystals commonly within the supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons. The prevalence of calcification in the rotator cuff is reported to be between 2% and 20% in asymptomatic shoulder joints. The reported prevalence in patients with shoulder pain is up to 50%.
Symptoms of calcific tendinitis:
- Night pain, causing loss of sleep.
- Constant dull ache.
- Pain increases considerably with active range of movement.
- Decrease in range of movement, or complaint of stiffness.
- Radiating pain up into the suboccipital region, or down into the fingers.
Who is likely to be affected?
Calcific tendinitis is a common disease that predominantly affects individuals aged between 40 and 60 years. Women seem to be more affected than men. Various factors have been suggested to play a role in this condition, such as abnormal activity of the thyroid gland, metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes), and genetic predisposition.
How does shockwave therapy work for calcific tendinopathy of the shoulder?
Shockwave therapy creates a series of potent sound waves which produces a small dose of controlled microtrauma direct to the calcific tendon. Research has shown that shockwave therapy stimulates the body’s natural healing process, induces fragmentation of calcium deposits within the tendon and desensitises local nerve endings, causing a reduction in pain and symptoms (Chianca et al., 2018).
Is shockwave therapy effective for calcific tendinopathy of the shoulder?
Shockwave therapy of calcific tendinopathy has been proven to be a clinically effective non-invasive treatment option for calcific tendinopathy. Schmitz et al (2015) conducted a systematic review to investigate the efficacy and safety of shockwave treatment for the treatment of orthopaedic conditions. Results of this extensive study reported shockwave to be a safe treatment technique for treating tendinopathy throughout the body. There have been no reported cases that shockwave treatment has caused any serious adverse effects.