Biceps Tendonitis

Signs and Symptoms

The biceps muscle is located in the front of the upper arm. Tendons connect one end of the biceps muscle to the shoulder in two places. The other end of the muscle is connected by tendons near the elbow (attached to the radius). Tendinitis occurs when these tendons become inflamed or irritated. Injuries to the biceps tendons are commonly caused by repetitive overhead activity.

Symptoms include

  • Pain when the arm is overhead or bent.
  • Localized tenderness or a burning sensation as the tendon passes over the groove in the upper arm bone.
  • Occasionally, a snapping sound or sensation in the shoulder area.

Non-surgical and surgical options are available for treating biceps tendonitis.

Treating Biceps Tendonitis

What to Expect

During an exam the doctor will assess the area for tenderness, range of motion and signs of instability. Depending on the result of the initial exam X-Rays or an MRI may be requested to examine the bone and tendon structure.

Initial treatment is conservative. If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with biceps tendinitis, start by resting the arm and shoulder and avoiding the activity which causes the pain. Using a combination of ice applications and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation.

If the pain continues your orthopaedist may recommend a steroid injection to alleviate the inflammation. If the pain results from shoulder instability or from pressure on the tendon from the shoulder bones, your orthopaedist may recommend arthroscopic surgery to anchor the tendon properly. After surgery it’s important to start moving the arm again. Therefore, your orthopaedist will prescribe a rehabilitation program that includes stretching and strengthening exercises. Before doing any heavy lifting or returning to sports, you should seek your physician’s approval.

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