Biceps Tendinitis

Biceps tendinitis occurs when there is an inflammation or irritation of the tendons in the upper biceps. Also known as the long head of the biceps tendon, it is a chord-like structure that connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder bones.

Biceps tendonitis
Picture from orthoinfo.aaos.org

Shoulder Anatomy

Your shoulder is made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle). The head of the upper arm bone (glenoid) fits into the rounded socket. The rotator cuff is a combination of muscles and tendons that attach the glenoid to the shoulder blade. Finally, the biceps tendon is a muscle in front of the upper arm with two tendons that attach the bones to the shoulder socket.

Causes of Biceps Tendinitis

The cause of biceps tendinitis can be due to a number of lifetime activities. As people age, their tendons become weaker. The condition can worsen due to overuse by repetitive shoulder motions of certain occupations such as painting, while doing chores or through sports activity. Activities such as swimming, baseball, and tennis also put people at risk for developing biceps tendinitis.

Symptoms of Biceps Tendinitis

  • Pain and tenderness in the front of the shoulder that seems to worsen with overhead lifting
  • Pain that moves down the upper arm bone
  • An occasional snapping sound or sensation in the shoulder.

Nonsurgical Treatment for Biceps Tendinitis

Most cases of biceps tendinitis can be treated with rest and medication. . Ice can be used to keep the swelling down along with non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain. Cortisone shots can also be used, but in some cases a steroid injection can weaken the already weak tendon and can cause it to tear. Severe cases of tendinitis may require surgeryl.

Surgical Treatment for Biceps Tendinitis

Surgery is usually done arthroscopically. The surgeon will insert a small camera into the shoulder to help guide surgical tools into the area.