Biceps tendinitis is a common cause of shoulder pain, often developing in people who perform repetitive, overhead movements. Biceps tendinitis develops over time, with pain located at the front of the shoulder, and usually worsens with continued activity. The biceps muscle is made up of 2 parts: the long head and the short head. The long head of the biceps is most commonly implicated with tendinitis, as the tendon from the muscle runs up the length of the arm and attaches into the shoulder joint. It becomes a part of the shoulder joint capsule, which is surrounded by numerous other structures, including the rotator cuff.
Biceps tendonitis is often the reason middle-aged people miss out on activities like tennis and golf, weight lifting, gardening, swimming, family adventures, and carrying their grandchildren.
There are many factors that may lead to biceps tendinitis, including activities requiring repetitive overhead movement of the arms, weakness in the rotator cuff and muscles of the upper back, shoulder joint and/or muscle tightness, poor body mechanics (how a person controls his or her body when moving), an abrupt increase in an exercise routine, and age-related body changes.
Biceps tendinitis results when excessive, abnormal forces are applied across the tendon, including tension (pulling of the muscle and tendon), compression (pushing or pinching), or shearing (rubbing). When the tendon is subjected to repetitive stresses, it can become irritated and painful.
Some movements that can be painful with biceps tendinitis include sharp pain in the front of your shoulder when you reach overhead, tenderness to touch at the front of your shoulder, pain when throwing a ball, and difficulty with daily activities, such as reaching behind your back to tuck in your shirt, or putting dishes away in an overhead cabinet
Other symptoms include pain that may radiate toward the neck or down the front of the arm, dull, achy pain at the front of the shoulder, especially following activity, weakness felt around the shoulder joint, usually experienced when lifting or carrying objects or reaching overhead and a sensation of "catching" or "clicking" in the front of the shoulder with movement.
When it comes to overcoming biceps tendonitis, the first recommendation common sense recommendation is to take a short break from any activity that aggravates the shoulder. This allows for an environment for the inflammation to subside and healing to take place. If pain persists, hand-on therapy can be effective for calming down an irritated shoulder quickly. As the pain subsides, you can address the root causes of biceps tendonitis so the pain does not return once you get back to activity. The best way to identify root and contributing causes is to have an assessment performed.
Often times, biceps tendinitis coupled with poor mobility of the lats and the t-spine. This can be combined with weakness of the rotator cuff and the lat muscles. In addition, postural imbalances may lead to faulty shoulder mechanics.
If weakness is found, learning how to activate muscles that are not firing well is crucial. Once these muscles can be activated, the next step is developing stability of the shoulder girdle with resistance. In order for the biceps tendon to become durable at less prone to injury, strength training with the proper technique is key.
When addressed with thorough specialized physical therapy, overcoming biceps tendonitis is possible. However, ignoring pain and using poor mechanics has the potential of turning into a more serious condition that could require surgery and/or a lengthy bout of rehabilitation.
If you have biceps tendonitis and would like to get back to playing tennis or golf, gardening, swimming, backpacking, or carrying your grandchildren, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to help.
We offer a free guide on relieving shoulder pain that can give you further insight into shoulder problems and help kickstart your recovery. If you’re interested in physical therapy but have questions, we are available for a free 15-minute phone consultation so you can have answered before booking an appointment.
If you’re considering physical therapy, you can also apply for a free Discovery Visit. This is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity, and foster confidence that we can help you.
If you want to book an appointment, you can get started with a shoulder pain consultation. This will be an opportunity to determine your potential for a full recovery without invasive medical procedures.
If you’re in pain and unsure about what your next step should be, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.