Biceps Tendonitis Symptoms & Treatment Options

Biceps Tendonitis

Understanding the Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Understanding Biceps Tendonitis

The shoulder is a complex, highly mobile joint designed to provide the highest amount of motion of any joint in the body. One part that frequently see stress is the biceps tendon. The biceps muscle is on the front of the upper arm and attaches to various parts of the upper arm and shoulder. When we refer to biceps tendonitis in the shoulder, we are most often referring to the long head of the biceps brachii. This tendon runs up the front of the arm, over top of the humeral head, and attaches on the shoulder labrum and glenoid, or socket of the shoulder joint.

Causes of Biceps Tendonitis

  • Repetitive overhead activity in sport, work, or daily life.
  • As we age tendons get stiffer, weaker, and more prone to injury
  • Arthritis, in which bone spurs grow around the tendon can irritate it and cause injury
  • Smoking

Symptoms of Biceps Tendonitis

Most often this injury is due to overuse, especially with repetitive activity in specific positions. Over time, the tendon sustains forces that exceeds its capacity leading to micro-injuries. You may not notice these at first, but given enough time, the tendon starts having larger tears, gets thick and swollen, and inflammation settles in causing pain and decreased function.

Occasionally, a single traumatic event can occur injuring the tendon, even causing a tendon rupture.

Additional risk factors of biceps tendonitis include:

  • Aching and tenderness in the front of the shoulder
  • Pain when raising you are or turning a screwdriver
  • Stiffness in the shoulder
  • Possible weakness in the shoulder

Diagnosing Biceps Tendonitis

A comprehensive history and physical examination is the most important piece to determine if the biceps tendon is involved in your shoulder pain. X-ray, MRI, and/or ultrasound are imaging modalities that allow us to see the biceps tendon and surrounding tissues.

Treatment Options

  • Prevention – Focus on your posture and technique if your work or hobbies require a lot of overhead activity, stretch and strengthen the muscle with exercise, maintain good mobility of the shoulder joint, and avoid nicotine.
  • Physical therapy – To help build strength, correct your posture, and improve function
  • Medications– Usually NSAIDs or Tylenol short-term to help control symptoms while going through a PT program
  • Steroid injections- Strong anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and inflammation in order to facilitate therapy. Typically done with ultrasound to guide the injection
  • Regenerative medicine– Harnessing the body’s incredible power to heal itself, rebuild tissue, and avoid surgery. Options include PRP, Bone-marrow derived stem cells, and Microfragmented Adipose injections.

Our Doctors that Treat Biceps Tendonitis

Dr. Niteesh Bharara

Director of Regenerative Medicine
Orthopedic Specialist - Non-Surgical Sports Medicine

Learn about available treatment options.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Niteesh Bharara, MD.

Reviewed by: Dr. Niteesh Bharara, MD.