Biceps Tendonitis

An Overview on Shoulder Pain Caused by Biceps Tendonitis

The long head of the biceps tendon, also known as the upper biceps tendon, is located where the bicep muscle meets the front of the shoulder. The biceps tendon attaches the bicep muscle to the socket of the shoulder joint. This tendon can become inflamed or irritated from overuse, repetitive overhead motions and age, leading to biceps tendonitis. Patients experiencing weakness and pain in the front of the shoulder can visit Dr. Mark Getelman, orthopedic shoulder specialist in the Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles, California area, for a bicep tendonitis diagnosis and treatment plan.

Biceps tendonitis is characterized as inflammation of the long head of the biceps tendon. In early stages of this shoulder condition, the tendon becomes swollen and red. As the condition progresses, the tendon covering (sheath) can thicken and the biceps tendon will often grow larger and thicker.

Bicep tendonitis is associated with a number of shoulder conditions, such as arthritis, instability, impingement and labral tears. In many patients, the cause of tendonitis is age related . As the body ages, the tendon becomes frayed and gradually weakens from normal wear and tear. Patients may also experience the condition from repetitive overuse, especially continuous overhead movements.

Biceps Tendonitis Symptoms

Biceps tendonitis causes pain and tenderness in the front of the shoulder, an achiness that radiates down the humerus (upper arm bone), shoulder weakness and an occasional snapping sensation in the joint. As the condition progresses, the pain may become more severe and spread over a larger area of the shoulder and arm.

Biceps Tendonitis Diagnosis

In order to diagnose bicep tendonitis, Dr. Getelman will perform a physical examination. He will examine the shoulder and bicep muscle for pain, tenderness and inflammation. He will also test the affected joint’s range of motion, strength and stability. X-rays, diagnostic ultrasound and an MRI scan may also be performed to view the joint in more detail and confirm the diagnosis.

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Biceps Tendonitis Treatment

Non-Surgical

Many cases of biceps tendonitis are treated with simple, non-surgical measures. Dr. Getelman may recommend a combination of rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications and a physical therapy program. A ultrasound guided cortisone injection may be recommended in severe cases in an attempt to alleviate shoulder pain and eliminate the need for shoulder surgery.

Surgical

Arthroscopic shoulder surgery for bicep tendonitis offers a safe predictable approach for these patients and  is typically reserved for chronic or more severe cases. The damaged portion of the biceps is removed and the remaining tendon is reattached to the humerus in a procedure called a biceps tenodesis. By removing the painful, damaged part of the biceps tendon from the shoulder joint, the patient’s pain is typically alleviated and function is restored.

For additional resources on shoulder pain caused by biceps tendonitis, contact the Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles, California orthopedic office of shoulder specialist Dr. Mark Getelman.