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Biceps Tendinitis: Symptoms, Treatment & More

Author: Niki L. Carayannopoulos, DO

Do you have pain or soreness in the front of the shoulder that gets worse when you lift something overhead or throw a ball? Does the pain radiate down the upper arm bone? Is there an occasional snapping sound or feeling in the shoulder joint?

If so, you could be experiencing symptoms of biceps tendinitis, a condition characterized by inflammation or irritation of the upper biceps tendons. The biceps tendons connect the biceps muscle (at the front of the upper arm) to the shoulder. You have two of these tendons; one attaches to the coracoid process (a small bump on the shoulder blade), and the other attaches to the glenoid (the top of the shoulder socket).

The second of these (the biceps tendon that attaches to the top of the shoulder socket) is more prone to inflammation. In the early stages of biceps tendinitis, the tendon may become red; as inflammation progresses the tendon can thicken and become enlarged.

What Causes Biceps Tendinitis?

Repetitive motion is a common cause of biceps tendinitis. Throwing a baseball, swimming, and playing golf or tennis can lead to biceps tendinitis. Additionally, household chores or jobs that require repetitive shoulder motion may lead to biceps tendinitis over time.

Diagnosing Biceps Tendinitis

Your orthopedic doctor at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics may diagnose biceps tendinitis by performing a physical examination, testing your range of motion, and ordering an imaging test, such as an x-ray or MRI.

Treating Biceps Tendinitis

In most cases, doctors attempt to treat biceps tendinitis non-surgically with RICE therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, physical therapy, and steroid injections.

If nonsurgical methods do not provide effective treatment, then your orthopedic surgeon may recommend shoulder arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery in which the biceps tendon can either be repaired or the damaged portion of the biceps can be removed, allowing for the healthy segment of tendon to be reattached to the arm bone. Additional surgical options may be available, depending on the extent of your tendinitis and your activity level.

See a Houston Orthopedic Doctor for Biceps Tendinitis

Do you have symptoms of biceps tendinitis? Do you experience pain or soreness, especially when throwing a ball or performing an overhead motion? See a Houston orthopedic doctor for an evaluation and diagnosis. To schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics, please call (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.