Calcific Bursitis

A thin sac called bursa is an important component in the body which helps in reducing friction between tendons, bones and muscle tissues by releasing lubricating agent in the surround areas where it is located. Calcific Bursitis is caused when this bursa gets inflamed due to calcification. Read on to know more about this condition, how it is caused, its symptoms, diagnosis, treatments and more.

Calcific Bursitis Definition

Calcific bursitis is the deposition of calcium in the bursa as the outcome of chronic inflammation in the bursa. The bursa contains synovial fluid but due to some reasons it can get inflamed. When it remains in inflamed state for long, calcification is caused. This form of bursitis is more commonly associated with the hips or shoulders. Since the bursa is located at different regions like elbow, foot and knee apart from hips and shoulders, calcific bursitis can be caused in them as well.

Calcific Bursitis Causes

The main reason for calcification is the inflammation occurring in the bursa. The bursae can get inflamed due to several indirect causes like chronic tendinitis or joint strain. Deposits of calcium from the related tendons can enter the bursa and calcify it. Subacromial bursa is the most common bursa wherein calcification occurs. Ankylosing spondylitis and pseudogout are two underlying disorders which might lead to calcific bursitis. Injury caused to the joints can also be a contributing factor. If bursitis is not treated on time, it might also become responsible for this condition.  It seems there is no direct cause for this condition.

Calcific Bursitis Symptoms

The main symptoms of this disorder include:

Picture of Calcific Bursitis

Picture 1 - Calcific Bursitis

  • Chronic pain
  • Possible stiffness in the joints
  • Decrease in motion of an affected joint
  • Inflammation
  • Tenderness

Calcific Bursitis Diagnosis

The diagnosis of this disorder is primarily done by examining the history of the patient. If it indicates presence of bursitis, further examination comprising impingement tests can be conducted. Generally, this form of bursitis affects the shoulders. Signs like swelling and tenderness on the tip of shoulders can be most often regarded as common symptoms in that case. For further detection, MRI scans, radiology scans and ultrasound scans can be done on the inflamed bursa. X-rays or MRI scans can show calcium deposits and inflammation of the affected bursa/bursae.

Calcific Bursitis Treatment

In order to restrict the extent of calcification, proper treatment is required. It usually includes pain-relieving treatments along with treatment options for addressing stiffness. Physiotherapy treatments, application of ice packs and drugs to reduce swelling and pain are the usual cures. Physiotherapy aims at relieving pressure off the bursa; hence it uses straps to deal with it. It also teaches certain movements and exercises which does not put stress on the bursa. Sometimes, cortisone injections are administered into the affected bursa to reduce the painful symptoms. Surgery is considered to be the final option if the inflammation is continually present. Chronic bursitis might require invasive treatments to decrease the impingement caused by the bursa.

Calcific Trochanteric Bursitis

Swelling and tenderness in the trochanteric bursa of the hip leads to greater Trochanteric pain syndrome. This might be due to rheumatoid arthritis or as a result of trauma. Calcification in this bursa can be very painful and may often need invasive treatments. To ease the symptoms, however, non-invasive treatment options can be initially tried to check whether they work.

Calcific Bursitis vs Calcific Tendonitis

Tendonitis is a condition of the tendons, wherein calcium deposits formed in them can lead to severe pain. Calcific Bursitis, on the other hand, results from calcification in the bursa.

Image of Calcific Bursitis

Picture 2 - Calcific Bursitis Image

Calcific Bursitis Prognosis

If the inflammation subsides with the aid of the aforementioned treatment options, a good outcome can be expected. It may take around 7 to 8 weeks for a patient to get better. A good physiotherapy or treatment plan helps in successful recovery of patients.


By    Last updated September 26th, 2012

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