Arthroscopic Treatment for Calcification Falls Short

The body has some amazing protective mechanisms. Take calcification, or bone spurs, for example. Calcium deposits in an area is the body’s attempt to stabilize or strengthen a tissue that is weakened. So, while they may not be desirable or may even cause pain, bone spurs are evidence of an underlying condition: structural weakness.

Traditional treatments of bone spurs are anti-inflammatories and physical therapy, which of course do nothing for the underlying structural weakness. Interestingly, a recent Orthopedics Today article reported on a doctor who was researching the efficacy of removing calcium deposits in the shoulder.1 Specifically, he treated patients with chronic calcifying shoulder tendinitis (calcium deposits on the tendon of the shoulder). He arthroscopically removed calcified areas in 70 shoulders, compared them to 24 healthy controls, and followed them for six years post-operatively. The results? The doctor leading the study labeled the arthroscopic treatment as “fairly successful” and also noted, “a number of shoulders subsequently presented with partial supraspinatous tendon tears, which makes him wonder whether the team should leave these calcific deposits alone in the future.”

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Once again, we see a clinician doubting the use of surgery to heal chronic pain conditions. Let’s think through this specific treatment. A person has painful calcium deposits and the orthopedic surgeon resects it. What is the result? Remember we said the body deposits calcium in an effort to stabilize weak structures. The result is a weaker tendon, causing the tendon to tear. Although the calcium was causing pain, it was making the structure stronger. Removing the calcium destabilizes and weakens the area.

So what is a person to do in the case of painful calcium deposits? A much better treatment option in the vast majority of calcific tendinitis cases or cases where bone spurs are causing a problem is Prolotherapy. Prolotherapy strengthens the tendon and stabilizes the joint by stimulating ligament repair. The result of stronger tendons and ligaments is increased strength of the painful structure. Once strength is increased, the pain remits and the body stops depositing calcium. Typically patients with calcific tendinitis, as with other cases where Prolotherapy is needed, require 3-6 visits done every 4 to 6 weeks. Prolotherapy is very effective at getting rid of the pain of calcific tendinitis. It is also great at getting rid of the pain of bone spurs and degenerative arthritis.

1. May 24, 2012. Clinical Scores Lower Than Expected with Arthroscppic Calcific Tendinitis Treatment. OrthopedicsToday. Retrieved from: