Calcific bursitis and peritendinitis in shoulder?

I am a 50 year old female and for many years (7 or so) I had a nagging, on-again, off-again, pain in my left shoulder with the pain towards the front and high on arm.

I had been lifting weights for exercise, so I assumed that was the reason for the injury and I stopped lifting, but the pain continued.

Later I did some swimming for exercise and also gave that up, as it seemed to make the pain worse. In recent years, I'd say the pain has always been there during certain movements and also waking me up at night.

In January, I suddenly had an acute problem ... over the course of a day I had increasing pain and stiffness, so that I really could not move my arm barely at all, and I was in considerable, constant pain.

I went to the doctor, who said it was "frozen shoulder" (although I could move it a bit,) ordered x-rays, and referred me to physical therapy. Here is what was reported by the x-ray:

"No acute articular or bony abnormality. Anatomic relationships.
Moderately extensive soft tissue calcification about the rotator cuff.

Calcific bursitis/peritendinitis otherwise negative examination."

Within a few days the shoulder was far less "frozen" and I went to 4 physical therapy appointments. The therapist tried iontophoresis twice, as well as plain electrical stimulation. He also gave me some exercises, which i did. Nothing seems particularly different pain-wise and after the last appointment he said he'd done what he could and maybe it would just get better on its own.

I am very curious about the relationship of Vit D, calcium, and magnesium. I recently (3 weeks ago) started Mg supplementation, because I had read that it might help with removing calcification. Also interesting, I think, is the fact that last year in April my Vit D was tested for the first time and my level was 7 ... very, very low. I supplemented during that summer and got my level up to 75, but i wonder if this might have caused the calcification to form or get worse? I am rather confused by what i have read
about calcification of soft tissues ... is it likely I have had this for years? Or just recently?

Or is it now perhaps in the reabsorption phase?

Any advice? Thanks very much!


Joshua Answers:

Hi there. Sure, I always have suggestions!

You didn't leave your email address or check the notifications box, I hope you find this response.

1. Did you supplement with Vitamin D3 or 'prescription' D2? If that 75 is D2, you -have- to switch to D3. D2, basically, brings up level numbers but doesn't provide the benefits.

2. Vitamin D and Magnesium are required to utilize Calcium. If you don't have enough Mag, the body can and does secrete calcium, aka your calcified shoulder. I'm not saying that's the FOR SURE reason, but it's surely a player.

3. It's likely that the calcification has been building up over time, yes. It doesn't just go from totally healthy to calcified overnight. You just didn't feel it because your body compensated as long as it could. Although actually you did feel it, a little at first, then more and more, then one day you had to go see the doc.

That's how Tendonitis and Calcific Tendonitis works. It's all about the Downward Spiral of the Pain Causing Dynamic

And whether it's bursitis or tendonitis, you still need to make the whole ecology happy.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Comments for Calcific bursitis and peritendinitis in shoulder?

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Aug 07, 2013
Vitamin D and calcification
by: Anonymous

I suffer from the same symptoms and they have worsened recently.

I also was diagnosed with a low Vitamin D level and have got Vitamin D medication during the last month or so. So naturally I suspected a connection. Surprisingly, my searches on the Internet led me to an article at which seems to imply that low Vitamin D Levels might help to cause the calcifications and medication might help to reduce or prevent the Problems I have.

So we may have been the victims of a coincidence that led to wrong conclusions - or maybe not. The medical Profession is only on its way to an exact science ;-)


Joshua Comments:

What is 'vitamin D medication'? Do you mean prescription Vitamin D?

Unfortunately, doctors don't do a very good job of spending ten minutes looking into current research (and thus they're often decades behind).

Prescription Vitamin D is Vitamin D2, which research clearly shows brings up blood levels but confers little to no actual benefits.

So if you want ALL the many health benefits of adequate Vit D, go get some liquid Vitamin D3 (which is what's on the shelves at health food stores etc).

Also, adequate Vit D and magnesium are required for the proper utilization of calcium in the body.

Aug 10, 2013
Clever Doc
by: Anonymous

Fortunately my doctor is smarter than those you mention :-)
His prescription was for liquid Vitamin D3. And yes, I already supplement that with Magnesium pills.


Joshua Comments:

Kudo's to 'smarter than normal' docs!

But let's test him/her further. :) Now the question is, how much Vit D did you take/have you been taking (and/or, how much did doc tell you to take?), and is your level now up to where it should be?

And out of curiosity, how much magnesium?

Aug 11, 2013
Vitamin D3 dosage
by: Anonymous

His prescription said 40 drops (16.000 I.E.) per week. I actually took 2.800 I.E./day, that is closer to 20.000 IE/week. Testing of blood Levels will happen in two weeks.

Magnesium dosage is 60 mg/day


Joshua Comments:

'i.e.' looks to be the german equivalent of 'i.u.', meaning, 'international unit'.

It will be interesting to see if your blood levels have come up. They may or them may not, it depends. My guess is that 2,800 i.u.'s/day won't bring it up very much.

Additionally, Magnesium is required to convert the Vit D to it's active form in your blood, and 60mg of magnesium (probably magnesium oxide?) isn't much at all.

See: Magnesium Dosage

Just for fun, stick with your current dosages until the Vit D test, then let me know what the new level is (and what the old one is). Then we'll know for sure if what you've been taking is adequate or not.

(IF it's low, and the doctor says you have a Vit D absorbtion issue, he's wrong. It's just a matter of not taking enough.)

Aug 11, 2013
Vitamin D3, Magnesium
by: Anonymous

Correct, I.E. (Internationale Einheiten) is the German expression for I.U.

The information sheet of my magnesium supply states that each pill contains 437 mg magnesium citrate and 165 mg chelated magnesium, equaling 60mg or 2,5mmol of magnesium.


Joshua Comments:

Ok, it's telling you how much is theoretically absorbed from the overall amount. Ok. That's important to know so that we're on the same page.

I'd still point to 'tolerance level' if a person is in pain/problem.

Aug 11, 2013
OP follow up
by: Original Poster

Hi, I have been reading both of your comments on my original post with interest.

I actually haven't had any problems lately with my shoulder. I have kept my Vit D levels high (over 50) and, yes, I have been using D3. They prescribed D2, but I quickly figured out that D3 was better and switched. I also have been supplementing with Magnesium. I have used an oral supplement, and I also used a Magnesium "oil" to massage the area of pain back when it was bothering me, I also went to PT ... not sure what helped exactly, but I haven't had any shoulder issues in about two years.

Now, if I could say the same for my Achilles tendons, I'd be a happy woman. ;)


Joshua Comments:

Ok great, you've got the Vit D handled. That's so nice (and rare!) to see.

Topical magnesium oil is a great way to absorb Magnesium, in addition to oral intake.

So, Achilles. What are you doing to make it better?

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