Calcium deposits on the body’s tendons, known as calcific tendonitis, can be painful, and even debilitating in severe cases. The deposits most commonly affect the shoulder, although they can appear on any tendon in the body. Their cause remains unknown. Removing calcium deposits involves managing the pain while waiting for them to dissolve naturally, as they do not cause bodily damage. Outpatient procedures or surgery are necessary if the deposits do not disappear on their own, and the pain is unbearable.
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Restrict your calcium intake. Avoid dairy products and nuts and vegetables that have high levels of calcium. This is a controversial treatment: The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center reports documented cases in which strict calcium restriction has eased pain, but a low-calcium diet carries other risks, like osteoporosis. The theory is that the body will mine the deposits for calcium it needs, but there are no studies to back this up.
Treat the pain with low-impact remedies. Physical therapy, including electroanalgesia (the treatment of pain via an electric current) and ice and heat therapy, as well as painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, will help manage the pain.
Get a cortisone injection to ease the pain. Doctors have varying opinions on the effectiveness of this treatment.
Get ultrasound-guided needling, an oupatient procedure in which calcium deposits are flushed out with a saline solution. The Cape Shoulder Institute in South Africa reports a 70 percent success rate with this treatment.
Consider extracorporeal shock wave therapy, an outpatient procedure that uses sound waves to break up calcium deposits. The Cape Shoulder Institute warns that the recurrence rate following this treatment is high.
If severe pain persists, get open-shoulder or anthroscopic surgery to remove the deposits. The surgery is complicated and recovery can be slow, but it has a success rate around 90 percent, according to Cedars-Sinai.
Homeopathic remedy advocates suggest a daily dose of apple cider vinegar to dissolve calcium deposits. Though the vinegar has a number of health benefits, such as promoting digestive health, no research has confirmed its effectiveness in removing calcium deposits.
Magnesium supplements can help prevent the formation of calcium deposits.
References and ResourcesArthritis Research Campaign
The Cape Shoulder Institute
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center