Biceps tendinopathy refers to irritation or inflammation of the upper biceps tendon, which connects the bones in the shoulder to the biceps muscle. This problem occurs most often in athletes over the age of 35 and non-athletes over 65. It may appear on its own or in conjunction with other issues in the shoulder or arm, such as a torn rotator cuff. Biceps tendinopathy can be caused by a range of issues including tendon impingement, overuse, trauma, or shoulder instability. That means that it typically coexists with other shoulder problems such as rotator cuff tears. It is commonly seen in athletes such as swimmers and gymnasts as well as workers who do a lot of heavy lifting and overhead shoulder work.
The primary symptom of biceps tendinopathy is pain around the inflamed tendon. The pain is often described as deep or throbbing and may worsen when lifting heavy objects. It can be difficult to distinguish this discomfort from the ache of other possible issues such as cervical disc disease or a torn rotator cuff. The pain associated with biceps tendinopathy typically becomes worse at night or after sleeping on the affected side. The patient may also notice “popping” or “clicking” sensations in the shoulder. The discomfort may be severe enough to interfere with their normal daily activities, so proper diagnosis and prompt treatment are vital.
When you see your doctor, they will probably want to perform some tests, including observation and palpation of the affected area and screening of the cervical spine, among others. Imaging tests that will likely be recommended include MRI, ultrasound, and others. Be prepared to answer questions about your medical history, activity levels, and symptoms for the quickest and most reliable diagnosis.
Treatment depends on the type of tendinopathy present and must also address the cause of the condition. Inflammatory biceps tendinopathy often responds favorably to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections. Ice can also help reduce swelling and relieve pain. Non-inflammatory types are unlikely to react to these measures but may respond well to special strengthening exercises your physical therapist can advise.
In the case of a ruptured tendon, surgery is often the best route. In all cases, pain relief is an essential component of treatment. The first and most important thing to do to help relieve pain is to rest the area and avoid any movements that cause pain. Taping the shoulder may also provide some pain relief as well as sleeping in a relatively upright position. Ice is also helpful as are special exercises and therapies provided by your physical therapist.
Surgery is indicated in many cases and often achieves the best results regarding strength and function. However, in medically complicated or less-active patients, non-surgical measures may be helpful. These include rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and corticosteroid injections. Physical therapy can also be useful. However, surgical repair of biceps tendinopathy usually offers the best outcome, especially once other measures have been tried and found to be unsuccessful.
Patients with biceps tendinopathy often experience complete healing and recovery and can return to their normal activities. Even ruptures do not always require surgery and may respond well to rehabilitation. In general, inflammatory types are quicker to respond to treatment than degenerative types. The time it takes to recover can vary widely depending on the cause of the issue. When you can return to your job or chosen sport depends on many factors. Depending on the demands of your activities, you may need sport-specific or job-specific exercises to help you achieve a safe return. Your physical therapist can discuss your individual needs and goals of treatment with you and help you understand what to expect.
Biceps tendinopathy can be caused by the normal aging process or by overuse as seen in certain athletes and may be accompanied by other shoulder issues. Treatment may be conservative, or it may involve surgery. In any event, Redefine Healthcare is here to assist you every step of the way, providing the expert care you need to relieve pain and restore optimal function.
At Redefine Healthcare, we offer advanced treatment for patients suffering from biceps tendinopathy as well as a range of other health issues. If you are experiencing symptoms of biceps tendinopathy, feel free to contact us for a consultation. We offer a variety of treatment options and recovery plans designed to alleviate pain and prevent further damage. The severity of symptoms and the best course of treatment vary widely. That’s why we take a personalized approach and provide each patient with a treatment plan created for their unique situation. Our physicians dedicate themselves to providing comprehensive, compassionate care using the latest technology and research.
You don’t have to suffer from the pain of biceps tendinopathy. Get started on your path to wellness as soon as possible by calling Redefine Healthcare today.
Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.
Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.
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