Rare Case of Calcific Tendinitis Mimicking InfectionIn this case report, orthopedic surgeons describe a 28-year old woman with severe shoulder pain. Immediate lab and MRI imaging tests led doctors to consider joint infection called septic arthrosis as a possible cause.
Without the correct treatment right away, septic arthrosis can cause serious joint damage. Urgent arthroscopic exam was scheduled. After draining a milky white fluid from the joint, the surgeon was able to see the problem.
Calcium deposits in the joint had caused an inflammatory response called calcific tendinitis. Usually a patient of this type would develop the more common shoulder bursitis from irritation of the tendon. This was a rare presentation.
The calcium deposits were removed and the joint irrigated. The patient had a good outcome with symptoms improved and no further problems. The authors note that calcific tendinitis usually goes away on its own. Conservative care with physical therapy is often all that's needed.
However, painful symptoms occur during the resorptive phase. This is when the body starts to absorb the calcium crystals and the joint starts to heal. Since there's no way to tell how long the symptoms will last, patients often want immediate treatment.
If conservative care isn't effective, then arthroscopy is considered. In this one case, the minimally invasive procedure was required due to the potential danger of joint infection.
Glenn Ross, MD, et al. Acute Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder Mimicking Infection: Arthroscopic Evaluation and Treatment -- A Case Report. In The American Journal of Orthopedics. December 2006. Vol. 35. No. 12. Pp. 572-574.
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