resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine in Taiwan Hospitals
This spring, a team of Western medical doctors and TCM practitioners from Cleveland Clinic traveled to Taiwan to visit Kaiser Pharmaceutical Co. (KP), and China Medical University (CMU), Taiwan's leading integrative medicine hospital.
Don't Ignore the Lower Half of the Pelvis (Part 1)
When your patient complains of lower back or pelvic pain, but your usual treatments are not getting the job done, what do you examine and treat? You may be missing important structures in the lower half of the pelvis.
Let's Talk About Biceps Injuries at the Elbow
While most muscles cross over only one joint, the biceps crosses two joints: the elbow and the shoulder. Injuries to the lower biceps cause considerable elbow pain. Here's how to assess and treat an injury to this area conservatively.
What are the Meridians?
The meridian and collateral system (jing luo, hereinafter referred to as "Meridians") is comprised of the main meridian channels (jing mai) and the collateral vessels (luo mai). Jing takes from meaning of the Chinese word pathway (also jing) and are the main branches of the system.
Adventures with the Pericardium
My previous column on the San Jiao deserves equal time for SJ's loving partner, the pericardium. I nicknamed SJ the travel meridian – but pericardium can also play a crucial role in air travel.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists more than 80 common autoimmune diseases including asthma, Crohn's disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
Chiropractic in the Eyes of the Public: 2nd Gallup-Palmer Poll
The second Gallup / Palmer College poll has been completed, yielding significant additional data regarding Americans' experiences with and perceptions of chiropractic care.
Illuminating the Hidden, Freeing the Source
Amongst the Primary Channels, from a classical point of view, the small intestine is perhaps the most important channel to understand. It is one of the least used acupuncture channels in modern acupuncture, yet it within it can be found a wealth of theories from the Ling Shu.
What's New in the NCCIH Strategic Plan
The NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) released its draft strategic plan 2016-2021 for public comment in early spring of 2016.
Work Stress and Musculoskeletal Health: Do Your Patients Get the Connection?
Most people underestimate the impact their job has on their health, especially if that job isn't particularly physically demanding. Big mistake.
A Study of Relationships
Sa-Ahm's five element acupuncture method is known to be one of the most effective acupuncture techniques in Korea because it gives an instant response at the time of treatment and has a high success rate in resolving chronic problems.
Know Your Research: Tips for Evaluating Literature Reviews
Clinical and experimental studies are not the only types of published research we might encounter as we look for evidence to inform our practices. One of the most useful types is the literature review, which summarizes a group of studies.
Less Time Than Required
Q: When is it appropriate to use a modifier -52? Can I use it for a timed service when I do less than the time required by the code?
Lessons from Functional Neurology
Chiropractic neurology, also known as clinical neuroscience or functional neurology, is moving the chiropractic profession forward by leaps and bounds.
Analyzing Acupuncture Case Studies
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Take this case study as an example. After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse during cold weather.
MPA Media Wins More Publishing Awards
The American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) has honored Dynamic Chiropractic with a national award and two regional awards for editorial excellence, and sister publication DC Practice Insights with two regional awards for graphic design excellence.
Are Probiotics Doing More Harm Than Good?
Considerable controversy exists concerning the efficacy of probiotic supplements. Very few human studies show any real positive impact on the microbiome or health. The "promise" of probiotics is based on the few animal studies that suggest a positive effect.
International Congress on Integrative Medicine
"Bridging Research, Clinical Care, Education and Policy" was the theme for the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health 2016 (ICIMH).
Guidelines for the Use of Modifier -52
Modifier -52 identifies that a service or procedure has been partially reduced or eliminated at the physician's discretion. This is to indicate the basic service described by the procedure code has been performed, but not all aspects of the service have been performed.
The Professional and Practice Benefits of Political Activism
Welcome to election season, a vital part of our American culture. Every two years, without fail, we are bombarded with TV, print materials and phone messages seeking our vote.
Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes (Part 1)
More than 45 million children ages 6-18 participate in some form of organized athletics, and 75 percent of American families with school-aged children have at least one child participating in organized sports.
September, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 09
Soft Tissue Pain: Calcific Tendinitis
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Calcific tendinitis in the shoulder is a soft-tissue pain complaint that may be acute but is usually chronic, and affects the rotator cuff tendons. Its symptoms somewhat mimic other conditions such as adhesive capsulitis, rotator cuff disorders, shoulder impingement syndrome, or traditional tendinitis characterized by tendon fiber inflammation.Because of these similar symptoms, knowing the evaluation procedures that will distinguish this condition from others is a priority for treatment. Treatment strategies also differ so attention to the particular treatment protocols for this condition is necessary for pain resolution or management.
Calcium deposits can accumulate in any tendon, but occur most often in the supraspinatus, but also the infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis tendons (in that order) (Fig. 1). Calcium deposits develop for no apparent reason (idiopathically), and may disappear and reabsorb without intervention.
Sometimes the tendon tissue gradually returns to normal and the calcium deposits reabsorb. In chronic calcific tendinitis, the healing process is interrupted and the condition becomes exacerbated, prolonged, and deposits may continue to develop. In some cases, there may be compression of the supraspinatus tendon fibers against the underside of the acromion process. However, there is controversy about whether the impingement process contributes to tendon pathology.
Some cases of calcific tendinitis have an active inflammatory process, but research has yet to provide a cause. It may be that it is the inflammatory process that produces the calcium deposits, but inflammation may also result from their development. In either case, inflammation may not be apparent as it may reside under the acromion process. Anti-inflammatory medications, both oral and injected, are often successfully used to provide pain relief, so this would indicate some inflammatory process.
Calcific tendinitis can be mistaken for other shoulder pathologies including adhesive capsulitis, shoulder impingement, bursitis, rotator cuff tears, or other disorders. Evaluating for calcium deposits is usually done through the history and physical exam because they may not show up in X-rays. However, both X-ray and ultrasound are sometimes used for diagnosis.
The relationship between calcium deposits and pain is unpredictable, as there are people who have deposits yet no symptoms of pain or limitation in movement. Nor does there seem to be a direct correlation between the size of the calcium deposit and the amount of pain it produces. For those who do have symptoms, pain can present rapidly - frequently within 24-48 hours - and be severe. Pain is usually described as deep or throbbing in nature (similar to a toothache).
This presentation is in sharp contrast to overuse conditions in the shoulder where symptoms emerge gradually and are more clearly a result of repetitive overuse. Calcific tendinitis pain usually increases in a short period of time, and motion of the shoulder may aggravate the pain. In addition, resting the affected joint often resolves the pain of classic impingement and tendinitis complaints. With calcific tendinitis pain may persist even with a significant period of rest from activities that are painful.
With classic supraspinatus tendinitis, pain is most likely to be exaggerated with abduction of the shoulder, either with active motion or resisted abduction. In calcific tendinitis, pain is not as dependent on activity or movement; though movement can increase the pain, it can also occur when the arm is motionless at the client's side.
Particularly notable with calcific tendinitis is pain with palpation over the greater tuberosity of the humerus (Fig. 2). Pain is not predominant at the greater tuberosity of the humerus with other types of rotator cuff problems. For example, with shoulder impingement syndrome pain may be felt under the acromion process with the arm abducted. But if the greater tuberosity is palpated with the shoulder in a neutral position, there won't be as much discomfort if shoulder impingement is the problem. In contrast, palpation of this area is likely to be very painful with calcific tendinitis.
Calcific tendinitis can be distinguished from adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder as there is no capsular pattern with this condition. The capsular pattern of restriction (greatest motion limitations in lateral rotation and then abduction) is a primary criteria for evaluation in the frozen shoulder. Shoulder bursitis can produce pain with various motions, but is usually not aggravated with resisted shoulder abduction. The resisted abduction usually increases discomfort in calcific tendinitis.
Treatment for calcific tendinitis differs from treatment of other shoulder disorders. A predictable pathological process has not been identified, and natural resolution of the condition can take years (3 to more than 10, with sometimes no improvement). It is generally dealt with conservatively, using non-operative modalities and with many cases responding positively to some of these approaches. Anti-inflammatories and steroid injections are usually recommended, along with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and physical therapy, but these have limited benefit for this condition. Rest from offending activities also doesn't result in much improvement.
Ultrasound has shown the most positive results, but recent research indicates higher levels of ultrasound are required for improvement and that little to no improvement results from lower levels. Another recent study resulted in complete dissolution of the calcium deposits in 86.6 percent of treatment subjects with application of radial shock wave therapy, which is an application of a low- to medium-energy shock wave to the affected tissues.1 These modalities both aim to break up the calcium deposits.
A role for massage for calcific tendinitis has not been determined at this point. A study from 1999 found deep friction massage treatment combined with phonophoresis to be beneficial.2 Phonophoresis uses ultrasound to drive medication (usually anti-inflammatory medication) into the skin. More research is needed to evaluate the two treatments individually. Even if deep friction massage could possibly function to break up calcification in the tissue, it would likely be uncomfortable for the client.
Further, massage could aggravate the client's condition. For this reason, applying direct massage on tendons with calcifications is not recommended. If calcific tendinitis is suspected, the massage practitioner should refer the client to a physician. However massage could be used for general pain relief in associated tissues and general relaxation, unless it produces pain. Because calcific tendinitis can lead to frozen shoulder from restricted mobility, massage (in the non-calcified tissues) and passive range of motion may be used as prevention by keeping the shoulder mobile.
Finally, complicated cases may be treated by a physician with a needling technique if conservative treatments have provided no pain relief or benefit. This is a technique in which a hypodermic needle is inserted into the calcium deposit. The needle is then used like a probe to break up the calcified deposits in the tendon tissue. A local anesthetic or corticosteroids are used in conjunction.
An individual with calcific tendinitis may seek the help of a massage practitioner believing they have some other type of pain condition in the shoulder. If the pain pattern for that individual is similar to that described above, calcific tendinitis should be considered. Thorough assessment and evaluation will be helpful to discriminate between calcific tendinitis and other soft-tissue disorders such as rotator cuff pathology, impingement, or adhesive capsulitis. Making these distinctions is important for this condition. Clients suspected to have calcific tendinitis should be referred to a physician, even if the client chooses to continue massage for mild pain relief.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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