What is Biceps Tendinitis?

Tendons exist throughout your body. They are composed of long connective tissue bands that attach your muscles to your bones. The bicep muscles are no different. These muscles, located in the front of the upper arm, run from the elbow to the shoulder and are attached by connective tendons. When these tendons become inflamed, you can feel pain in the front of the shoulder or in the upper arm. This condition is referred to as bicipital tendonitis, or biceps tendinitis.

How Does This Condition Develop and Occur?

Biceps tendinitis occurs when the muscles and tendons in the arm and/or shoulder are overused. This is most common in athletes (especially those who use a throwing motion frequently) or those who work a job that requires them to lift heavy objects, engaging these muscles and tendons. Likewise, the tendons connecting the biceps can also also be damaged as a result of an injury, whether minor or traumatic.


The symptoms of this condition are fairly straightforward, which will help your doctor or physical therapist to properly diagnose and treat it. Patients will feel pain when they move their shoulders and arms, particularly when the arm is raised above shoulder height. You may also feel pain even when simply touching the front of the shoulder, if the condition has progressed.


When discomfort moves from soreness to pain, you must head to a doctor. Upon visiting the hospital or clinic, your doctor will examine the arm and shoulder where you are experiencing pain. He/she will look for signs of tenderness in the bicep muscles as well as the connecting tendons.


Treatment for biceps tendinitis will vary depending on the level of pain reported by the patient. It may be as simple as a home remedy of using an ice pack everyday for half hour until the pain subsides or taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. However, more serious cases may require prescription-strength medication or even a corticosteroid injection to reduce the inflammation and alleviate pain.

Returning to Sports/Activity

With time and the proper rehabilitation and healing, patients will be able to return to their active lifestyles. However, timing is crucial here. If you return too soon, you put yourself at risk of worsening the injury and causing permanent damage. Everyone recovers at a different rate, and listening to your own body as you work through rehabilitative exercises is of the utmost important. Generally speaking, the longer you wait to start treatment, the longer it will take for your injury to heal. When the shoulder has full range of motion again, without the experience of pain, you will know that you’re able to return to your normal activities. If you participate in contact sports, be careful not to return if the shoulder is even slightly tender, and try to avoid hard contact.


The best way to prevent injury is by properly warming-up and stretching before you engage in exercise. If you are an athlete who uses these muscles regularly and strenuously, also consider cooling down and using ice after use.

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POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 12 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!