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Biceps tendonitis

Find out what causes biceps tendonitis and how it can be treated

Your biceps muscle is located on the front part of your upper arm and is attached to the bones in your arm, elbow and shoulder by tough connective tissues called tendons. The main function of your biceps muscle is to flex (bend) and stretch your forearm, and anything that limits this function can impact on your ability to use your arm normally.

There are a number of causes of biceps tendon pain, one of which is biceps tendonitis. For expert assessment, diagnosis and advice on treatment from one of our highly-experienced orthopaedic consultants, please contact us to book an appointment at a time that is convenient for you.

One of the most common causes of pain in the upper arm is tendonitis in your biceps tendons. Tendonitis refers to an inflammation or irritation, and it can occur in any tendon in the body. Biceps tendonitis refers to inflammation or irritation in one of the three biceps tendons:

  • Long head tendon: attaches your biceps muscle to the top of your shoulder socket at what is called the glenoid cavity.
  • Short heard tendon: attaches the biceps muscle to your shoulder blade (scapula), at an anatomical point known as the coracoid process.
  • Distal biceps tendon: attaches your biceps muscle to the elbow.

The most common cause of biceps tendonitis is overuse of the muscle. This is usually a result of repetitive movements, such as may be seen in sports like golf, tennis or swimming, although it can occur suddenly due to a serious and abnormal load/weight being applied to the tendon.

There are many different causes of pain in the shoulder, upper arm and elbow, and it can be challenging to self-diagnose (for example, biceps tendonitis in the shoulder can mimic the symptoms of rotator cuff tendonitis). That is why we always advise you book an appointment at a hospital nearest to you, to get an accurate diagnosis from a highly-experienced consultant, fast.

The most common symptoms of biceps tendonitis are:

  • Pain or soreness in the upper part of your arm, elbow or shoulder
  • Difficulty when trying to move your arm
  • Swelling in your elbow, upper arm or shoulder

Fortunately, biceps tendonitis can usually be managed and treated fully, and you should expect to feel improvement within a couple of weeks ordinarily. If your pain is more sever, or continues for longer, assessment by a consultant is advised.

Pain cause by biceps tendonitis can usually be treated effectively using one of the following methods:

  • Ice: A cold ice pack on the affected area may help to reduce swelling and pain.

  • Medication: Painkillers, particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

  • Physiotherapy: Your consultant may recommend that you see a physiotherapist for help. If your tendonitis has been caused by overuse, the physiotherapist will be able to help show you alternative ways to carry out certain tasks, in order to lower the risk of experiencing tendonitis again.

  • Rest: Often, the best thing you can do to aid recovery from biceps tendonitis is to rest your arm. This can promote healing as well as remove the risk of putting any additional strain on the affected tendon by mistake.

In more severe or long-term cases of tendonitis, you may be advised to have:

  • Corticosteroid injection: Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication, and injection into the affected tendon can help to reduce inflammation and promote recovery.

  • Surgery: long-term tendonitis can sometimes lead to a tear/rupture of the tendon, and should this occur, surgery will probably be required to repair the damage. Should surgery be necessary, this will be explained in detail by your Consultant and you will have the chance to ask them any questions you may have. Following your operation, the physiotherapy team in your hospital will help and support you throughout your recovery.

We always aim to provide our patients with the highest quality, up to date, evidence based, modern treatment that is effective, affordable and safe.

It is easy to book an appointment with one of our orthopaedic surgeons today, at a time that is convenient for you. If you’ve been struggling with pain in your upper arm, shoulder or elbow, and think it may be caused by biceps tendonitis, why not book a time to come and talk to one of our specialists? Our staff are experts in their field and will be able to expertly assess the cause of your pain and advise you on the best treatment option.

If you’ve been dealing with pain and/or less movement in your upper arm for a while, the last thing you want is to have to wait any longer for it to be treated. We have no waiting lists, meaning that you will be seen by one of our specialists promptly and receive any treatment you need without delay.

Specialists offering Biceps tendonitis

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Mr Kim Chan

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MB ChB, ChM, FRCS(Tr&Orth)

Ross Hall Hospital 1 more Kings Park Hospital

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Mr Matthew Barrett

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBBCh, MRCS, FRCS (Tr & Orth)

The Winterbourne Hospital 1 more The Harbour Hospital

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Mr Kush Narang

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBBS MS(Orth), FRCS(Eng), FRCS(Ed), FRCS(Glas), FRCS (Tr & Orth)

Goring Hall Hospital

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Mr Nawfal Al-Hadithy

Trauma & Orthopaedic Consultant

MBBS, BSc, MSc Sports & Exercise Medicine, Diploma in Medical Education, FRCS (Tr & Orth)

Bishops Wood Hospital 1 more The Clementine Churchill Hospital

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Mr Matt Ravenscroft

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBBS, BSc, FRCS (Trauma and Orthopaedic)

The Alexandra Hospital

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