calcific tendonitis surgery Perth

Calcific tendonitis Perth

Everything you need to know about calcific tendonitis

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Calcific tendonitis symptoms

Could I have calcific tendonitis?

As the term suggests, calcific tendonitis occurs in your tendons. This can happen in any tendon of your body, but it mostly occurs in the rotator cuff tendons. If you have calcific tendonitis, calcium deposits build up inside a tendon close to where it attaches to the bone.

The tissues around the build-up can then become inflamed, and quite often this causes some of the most severe shoulder pain ever experienced. The pain often comes in waves that can last hours or even days before disappearing again.

Dr Sven Goebel | Shoulder Surgeon Perth

calcific tendonitis surgery Perth

You may wonder why you started developing calcific tendonitis. Usually, it’s the result of a number of small injuries that haven’t healed properly or it is caused by wear and tear.


How is it diagnosed?

The most important test is a series of shoulder X-rays. Calcium deposits are showing up like small or large specks around the humeral head (ball). Ultrasound tests can also diagnose calcific deposits but are less reliable.

Surgery for calcific tendonitis

Calcific tendonitis treatment

First-line treatment

Initially, painful episodes can be treated with painkillers and ice packs. One of the recommendations may be to change some of your lifestyle habits. If your pain is persistent, injections with cortisone can be helpful to reduce inflammation around the bursa. Sometimes needling can be used as a technique to remove the deposits, but this sometimes does not work very well.

Surgery for calcific tendonitis

If all non-operative measures have failed, shoulder surgery may be recommended to relieve your pain. It becomes more successful in situations where the problem has been there for a long time: we are talking months or years.

An arthroscopic (keyhole) procedure called “subacromial decompression and evacuation of calcific deposit” is done under general anaesthesia. Two to three small incisions (portals) are made to introduce a camera and surgical tools. The inflamed bursa will be removed, together with a resection of bone spurs (if present). Then a needle will be used to identify the calcific deposits inside your tendon and the tendon will be opened just enough to let the calcium material out. The subacromial space will be thoroughly washed out.

Dr Sven Goebel | Shoulder Surgeon Perth

calcific tendonitis surgery Perth


What happens after surgery?

After surgery, you will be brought into the recovery room. You will wake up wearing a broad arm sling that you should keep wearing for comfort and support. 

We recommend that you start moving quite soon after your surgery. Very often, the day after surgery, your pain levels will have significantly lowered. We will give you a rehabilitation program before you leave the hospital.

In general, I recommend these timelines after surgery to return to specific activities:

Having a shower:

1 day after surgery

Light exercise:

2-5 days after surgery


Once able to elevate arm to 90 degrees away from the body with no pain

Normal exercise:

14-28 days after surgery

Going back to work:

14 days after surgery for light duties, 4-6 weeks for manual duties