Calcific Bursitis

What is calcific bursitis?

Calcific bursitis causes chronic pain and stiffness in the affected joint.
Calcific bursitis causes chronic pain and stiffness in the affected joint.

A bursa is a thin fluid-filled sac that reduces friction forces between tissues of the body. Chronic (repeated or long-standing) inflammation of the bursa (bursitis) can lead to calcification of the bursa. This is referred to as "calcific bursitis." The calcium deposits (calcification) can occur as long as the inflammation is present and remain after it has resolved. Calcific bursitis occurs most commonly at the shoulder (in the bursa adjacent to the rotator cuff tendons) or hip (in the bursa at the greater trochanter).

What are causes and risk factors for calcific bursitis?

Calcific bursitis often has no direct cause that is identified and likely occurs in this setting after unnoticed strain of a joint caused local inflammation of the bursa (bursitis). Risk factors for developing calcific bursitis include joint injury (trauma) and underlying diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis and calcium pyrophosphate dehydrate deposition disease (pseudogout).

What are symptoms and signs of calcific bursitis?

Calcific bursitis may not cause any symptoms once the inflammation has subsided. Calcific bursitis typically leads to chronic pain, stiffness, and sometimes limited range of motion of the affected joint with use or when examined.

How do doctors diagnose calcific bursitis?

The diagnosis of inflammation of the bursa (bursitis) can be made clinically based on the history and physical findings. Calcific bursitis is diagnosed when viewed with anX-ray test or MRI scan of the inflamed, painful bursa.

Calcific Bursitis Symptom

Joint Stiffness

Joint stiffness is the sensation of difficulty moving a joint or the apparent loss of range of motion of a joint. Joint stiffness often accompanies joint pain and/or swelling. Depending on the cause of joint stiffness, joint redness, tenderness, warmth, tingling, or numbness of an affected area of the body may be present. Joint stiffness can be caused by injury or disease of the joint and is a common finding in the arthritis conditions. Joint damage, including stiffness, can also occur following injury to the joint.

What is the treatment of calcific bursitis?

Treatment of the inflammation of calcific bursitis can help to prevent further calcification as well as relieve pain and stiffness. Treatments include medications for inflammation, cold packs, immobilization, injections of cortisone into the bursa, physical therapy, and occasionally surgery to remove the inflamed bursa and calcium deposit.

What is the prognosis of calcific bursitis?

When the inflammation is quieted, the long-term outlook (prognosis) is excellent. Optimal improvement can require physical therapy treatment. The calcium deposit can remain indefinitely and may not cause any problems. Significant calcium deposits can sometimes, however, cause a mechanically abrasive area of tenderness. These deposits that continue to cause symptoms are considered for surgical removal.

Is it possible to prevent calcific bursitis?

The prevention of calcific bursitis involves avoiding injury and reinjury to joints and treating any underlying medical condition (if present) that might increase the chances for developing calcific bursitis.


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Galletti, Lisa, et al. "Treatment of a calcific bursitis of the medial collateral ligament: a rare cause of painful knee." Journal of Ultrasound 22 (2019): 471-476. <>.

Klippel, John H., et al., eds. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases, 13th Ed. New York: Springer and Arthritis Foundation, 2008.