Calcium deposits are small buildups of calcium which can occur anywhere in the body, although they are especially common in the shoulder. The cause of calcium buildups is not fully understood, although doctors have come up with some theories, ranging from stress to vitamin deficiencies. Many of these deposits require no medical treatment, and in some cases they may even reabsorb back into the body. In some situations, however, it may be necessary to pursue treatment to deal with a calcium deposit.
These formations start out small and soft, growing and hardening slowly over time. People often notice calcium deposits because they grow large and hard enough to be felt through the skin, or because they put stress on surrounding tendons and muscles. The area around the calcification may also become inflamed as a result of irritation, causing the region to feel hot and sore. A large deposit can restrict freedom of movement by making it hard for someone to move a tendon or muscle comfortably.
If a calcium deposit begins to cause inflammation, injections of cortisone may be used at the site to bring the swelling down. Using ice packs to bring down swelling and inflammation can be recommended to help the patient cope with the pain caused by the buildup of calcium. If these measures do not work, or the patient experiences profound discomfort, it may be necessary to use surgery to take the calcium out of the affected area. The deposits do not usually regrow after removal.
Occasionally, calcium deposits develop in places which could be potentially dangerous or problematic. These deposits may interfere with the function of the body, or cause permanent damage as a result of straining or damaging surrounding soft tissue. In these situations, patients are usually advised to have surgery to remove the calcification, and the doctor may recommend additional follow up treatment to monitor the area for signs of recurrence, and to check for damage which may have been left behind.
Women appear to be more at risk for calcium deposits, and they are commonly associated with osteoporosis and aging. Because the cause of these formations is not fully understood, it is difficult to establish guidelines for people who want to prevent the formation of calcifications. However, eating a balanced diet and ensuring that the bones are supported with sufficient calcium and other minerals may help, and it certainly cannot hurt.