Understanding Bicep Tendonitis And When To Visit A Doctor

December 6th, 2019 Becki Andrus

If you are experiencing pain or weakness in your shoulder there are multiple reasons why this might occur. The possibilities range from a sprain or strain to arthritis, bursitis, frozen shoulder, and swimmer’s shoulder. Shoulder discomfort can also emerge due to a rotator cuff issue, a broken collarbone, broken arm or separated shoulder. 

One other potential issue that can create pain or weakness is biceps tendonitis. This condition is an inflammation of the upper biceps tendon.

Anatomy Of Your Shoulder

Your shoulder consists of three bones. These include your upper arm bone which is referred to as your humerus, your shoulder blade which is also called your scapula, and your collarbone which is referred to as your clavicle. These comprise the ball and socket joint which is your shoulder.

A mixture of tendons and muscles have the responsibility of keeping your shoulder socket aligned with your arm bone centered in your shoulder socket.

The biceps muscle is located in the front of your upper arm. The upper end of this muscle contains two tendons that attach to your shoulder joint. One of these tendons is joined to the shoulder socket, which is referred to as the glenoid, while the other tendon attaches to the shoulder blade.

Defining Biceps Tendonitis

Sometimes, the bicep can become inflamed, which means that you are dealing with biceps tendonitis. The discomfort that results from this issue can emerge at the elbow, or it can develop in your shoulder. However, it is unlikely that you will experience tendonitis in both locations simultaneously.

If the pain associated with this condition develops in your shoulder, it often occurs in association with other shoulder issues. In many cases, biceps tendonitis can emerge due to a problem with the rotator cuff tendon.

However it can also occur due to arthritis of the shoulder joint, a shoulder impingement, chronic shoulder dislocation, or a tear in the glenoid labrum. This is located at head of your upper arm bone, at a point where it joins the rounded socket of your shoulder blade.

Causes And Symptoms

The primary cause of biceps tendonitis is the accumulation of use during various activities throughout your life. As we become older, the tendons gradually weaken through every day use. This can accelerate from overuse, or repeated movement on a daily basis.

This repetitive motion can take place is the result of various jobs. It can also emerge due to sports such as baseball, swimming, and tennis, since these activities include an overhead motion. In addition to pain in the shoulder, other symptoms of biceps tendonitis include tenderness in the shoulder, a sensation of aching that progresses down the upper arm bone, and a snapping sound in the shoulder.

Biceps Tendon Tears

in some situations, injury or continual overuse can cause the biceps tendon to tear. This can develop at the elbow or the shoulder. If this occurs, the tear can be partial. or complete.

Symptoms of a biceps tear include noticeable pain in the shoulder or elbow, weakness of the shoulder or elbow, difficulty in rotating the palm of your hand from an upward to a downward position, and an obvious change in the look of your bicep in the upper arm. This is referred to as “popeye muscle”. You might also have a bruise on your upper arm or the area surrounding your elbow.

What A Doctor Will Do 

If you are experiencing any discomfort, an ache that travels down the upper arm, or if you have heard a snapping sound, then it is recommended that you visit a physician. If you do, he or she will ask questions regarding your medical history. Your doctor will then conduct an examination of your shoulder. This will include testing your range of motion, your stability, and your strength. Your physician might also order x-rays, ultrasounds, or MRIs to ensure a proper diagnosis.

In many cases, biceps tendonitis can be treated with a combination of ice, and rest. Sometimes, anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen will be recommended in order to decrease swelling and discomfort.

In other cases, steroids – through cortisone injections – might be advised by your physician. It is possible that your doctor will also recommend physical therapy in order to improve your range of motion, and boost your strength.

There are occasions in which surgical treatment will be the best plan. Especially if nonsurgical treatment has not improved the situation. There are several types of surgery which might be implemented, based upon the specifics of your situation.

Orthopedic Associates Can Help With Your Shoulder Conditions

It is clear that having your shoulder functioning properly is of vital importance. Fortunately, the professionals at Orthopedic Associates are ready to provide you with their expertise whenever you or someone in your family is contending with a biceps or shoulder issue, or from any type of condition. Our collection of board-certified doctors supply the vast knowledge that can only result from a combined 183 years of experience. This is beneficial in their ability to design effective treatment plans that will guide you back to a pain-free existence.

The specialists at Orthopedic Associates are also dedicated to helping you with a large range of shoulder conditions:

  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Arthritis
  • Anatomy of the Shoulder
  • Biceps Tendinitis
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture
  • Burners and Stingers
  • Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder (Degenerative Calcification)
  • Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder (Reactive Calcification)
  • Fracture of the Collarbone (Clavicle)
  • Fracture of the Shoulder Socket (Glenoid Fracture)
  • Fractures of the Greater Tuberosity
  • Fractures of the Shoulder Blade (Scapula)
  • Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
  • Glenoid Labrum Tears
  • Hill-Sachs Lesion
  • Loose Shoulder (Multidirectional Instability)
  • Muscle Imbalance in the Shoulder
  • Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
  • Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Proximal Humerus Fracture (Broken Shoulder)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the Shoulder
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries/Tears
  • Shoulder Dislocations
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
  • Shoulder Separation
  • SLAP Tear (Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior Tear)
  • Snapping Scapula Syndrome
  • Subacromial Bursitis
  • Suprascapular Neuropathy
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Winged Scapula


Our orthopedic experts are highly experienced in performing multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the shoulder including:

  • Absorbable Antibiotic Bead Treatment for Osteomyelitis
  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Separation Repair
  • Anesthesia
  • Arthroscopic Bankart Repair
  • Arthroscopic Capsular Plication/Release
  • Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Biceps Tenodesis
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Diagnostic Arthroscopy (Shoulder)
  • Distal Clavicle Excision (Resection Arthroscopic Technique)
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Glenohumeral Debridement
  • HemiCap® Resurfacing
  • Intracapsular (Glenoid) Injection
  • Joint Injection (Therapeutic Shoulder)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Mini-Open Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • ORIF Surgery for Proximal Humerus Fracture
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection Ove
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement
  • Rotator Cuff Repair (Mini-Open Supraspinatus Tendon-to-Bone Insertion)
  • Shoulder Impingement Surgery
  • Shoulder Resurfacing
  • SLAP Repair
  • Subacromial Injection
  • Suprascapular Nerve Block (Fluoroscopically Guided)
  • Total Shoulder Replacement
  • Ultrasound-Guided Injection for Shoulder Pain

Even if shoulder pain is not your primary concern, we also offer multiple solutions for a wide range of conditions – both with or without surgery. Visit one of Orthopedic Associates two locations or request an appointment today. We are fully committed to paving the path toward a pain-free life for you. 

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