Basic calcium phosphate crystal-associated musculoskeletal syndromes: an update

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Purpose of review

Basic calcium phosphate (BCP) crystals are associated with two important musculoskeletal syndromes. Deposition of BCP crystals in tendons, bursae, and other soft tissues around joints causes calcific periarthritis, whereas intra-articular BCP crystals contribute to osteoarthritis and cause the highly destructive arthritis known as Milwaukee Shoulder Syndrome. The epidemiology and natural history of these syndromes are poorly understood, and because the pathogenesis remains unclear, few targeted therapies are available. I will review new developments in this field.

Recent findings

I will discuss a case collection of calcific periarthritis of the hip, and evidence-based management strategies for shoulder calcific periarthritis that might be applied to calcific periarthritis at other locations. I will summarize several recent articles addressing mechanisms of crystal formation and identifying pathways through which BCP crystals produce tissue damage and explore some newly identified risk factors for pathologic mineralization.


We are making slow, but steady progress in understanding the clinical presentation of calcific periarthritis in sites other than the shoulder. A growing appreciation of the mechanisms through which BCP crystals mediate tissue damage should lead to the development of novel management strategies for these common musculoskeletal syndromes.

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