Shockwave therapy for calcific shoulder tendonitis

Calcific tendonitis of the shoulder is when tendons become swollen and irritated due to a build up of calcium. This can restrict ROM (range of movement) and cause pain in the arm, neck and shoulder. There are a number of treatments that can be undertaken for calcific tendonitis of the shoulder, these include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, traditional physiotherapy, washing and draining of the shoulder joint, steroid injections and sometimes surgery. Shockwave therapy has been demonstrated to be an effective therapy and can be used as an alternative to surgery.

The literature shows that shockwave therapy improves the symptoms of calcific tendonitis, resulting in less pain and better use of the joint:

Radial extracorporeal shock wave therapy in the treatment of shoulder calcific tendinitis. Avancini-Dobrovid et al. Coll Antropol, Sept 2011.

  • Clinical trial (no randomisation or control group)
  • 30 patients with calcific shoulder tendinitis received ESWT once a week for max 3-5 weeks.
  • There was significant improvement of pain, shoulder ROM and muscle strength, which was maintained at 6 months follow-up.
  • X-rays showed significant reduction of calcifications size.
  • The authors conclude radial ESWT is an effective treatment modality for calcific shoulder tendinitis producing good short and long term results.

Radial extracorporeal shock-wave therapy in rotator cuff calcific tendinosis. Mangone et al. Clin Cas Min Bone Metabol, May 2010

  • Observational study.
  • 62 patients received radial shockwave therapy (RESWT) or high power laser therapy (HPLT).
  • The results suggest that the use of RESWT in the treatment of rotator cuff calcifying tendinosis offers remarkable advantages compared with HPLT with regard to improvement of pain and shoulder function.
  • ESWT treatment may be a valuable treatment method of this pathology from a cost benefit point of view as well, as it showed to produce quick return of joint functionality with a limited number of applications
  • The authors conclude that RESWT is the method of choice for calcific rotator cuff tendinitis.

Radial shockwave therapy in calcifying tendinitis of the rotator cuff-a prospective study. (article in German). Magosh et al., Zeit Orthop Unfall Chir, 2003

  • Prospective study.
  • 35 patients who suffered from calcifying rotator cuff tendinitis for a mean of 28 months received 3 low energy RSWT treatments.
  • RSWT treatment produced significant improvement of pain and shoulder function within the first 4 weeks. This improvement persisted throughout the 12 months follow-up. Up to 81% of patients were pain-free after 1 year, and 19% had pain relief.
  • RX suggested that RSWT promotes resorption of the calcific deposit.

For more impartial information on shockwave please visit proff Tim Watsons website

Find out more about shockwave from DJOGlobal