Relieving shoulder tendonitis

July 9, 2009 4:03:56 PM PDT
Shoulder pain is a common problem suffered by millions of people and there can be many reasons for the pain. But one of the most common problems is tendonitis. Now, there's a minimally invasive procedure that can help to relieve the pain. And that's what 43 year old Kentaro Maruyama hopes will help get rid of the aching in his shoulder. He has tendonitis, which is an inflammation of the tendon. And his pain has been getting worse over the last three, particularly when he sleeps or reaches.

"When I move or stretch it starts to hurt. I can't stand it," said Kentaro.

Now, Dr. Devon Klein with Lenox Hill Hospital is going to treat Mr. Maruyama's shoulder. An ex-ray previously taken has shown that he has calcific tendonitis, a calcium deposit that's irritating one of the shoulder tendons in the rotator cuff. It's a common problem.

"Patients who develop calcific tendonitis tend to be in their fourth or 5th decade of life," said Dr. Klein.

During the procedure Dr. Klein used an ultrasound for guidance and inserted two needles directly into the shoulder. One needle, containing an anesthetic liquid broke up the calcium. The second contained saline to wash and flush out the deposits. The entire procedure took about 20 minutes. It's not clear why some people develop the calcium deposit but it might be a combination of injury and aging.

"The first line of treatment is what we consider conservative therapy, physical rehabilitation and medication and pain medications," said Dr. Klein.

But when this procedure is called for, studies show it offers improvement in pain relief and mobility.

"This has a high success rate in short term and long term follow up," said Dr. Klein.

And that was the evidence from a recent study in Italy where patients who had the procedure were compared with patients who didn't have any treatment. However, after five and 10 years, both groups showed the same improvement because in time calcific tendonitis improves on its own. Unfortunately for some, it can take several years before that happens. Other treatments for this condition include surgery and shockwave therapy.


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