Anatomy & Background
Biceps tendinopathy is pain located in the musculo-tendinous junction of the upper arm. This condition is normally caused when other injuries to the shoulder have occurred. Most often, destabilizing injuries to the shoulder will lead to complications that can produce tendinopathy of the biceps tendon.
What is a tendon?
A tendon is the part of the muscle that attaches the muscle to the skeletal structure of the human body. It is an extremely strong fibrous tissue that is designed to transfer the force generated in our muscles to our bones, creating movement.
Tendinopathy is common in older individuals. Other common causes of biceps tendinopathy include:
- Participating in athletic activities that can strain the biceps, like weight training or wrestling.
- Repetitive strain injuries that occur in people who consistently use the biceps muscle during sports or at work.
- Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may be more susceptible to tendinopathy.
- Strain caused by an underlying condition like impingement syndrome or shoulder instability.
- The tendon can weaken with age and rupture.
Signs and Symptoms of Biceps Tendinopathy
- Upper arm pain or tenderness directly over the tendon that can radiate to the forearm or shoulder.
- Pain or burning sensation during activities, particularly those that require heavy lifting.
- Weakness may occur as the inflammation gets worse.
- Feeling of tightness or a loss of motion.
- Swelling of the tendon.
Treating Biceps Tendinopathy
If you suspect that you have tendinopathy, a course of conservative treatment is usually recommended to begin that would include rest, ice, physical therapy and non-steroidal medications to reduce any inflammation.
If your symptoms persist, you made need to see your pain management physician. S/he may suggest steroidal medication or injections, in conjunction with physical therapy. Treatment for any underlying conditions will also be required. Surgery is rarely recommended for biceps tendinopathy, but may be considered in rare cases.
Procedures that your pain management specialist may recommend and perform include:
- REST and ICE
- The use of NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal, Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
- Steroidal injections to reduce inflammation
- Pain medication to reduce discomfort
- Surgery to correct underlying pathology or the cause of the condition
It is important that once the pain and inflammation is reduced, and motion and strength are restored, the patient gradually return to daily activities. Instruction in daily activities or sports performance will be provided by the patient’s’ pain management specialist to eliminate the reoccurrence of biceps tendinopathy.