Biceps Tendinitis

Biceps brachii is one of the crucial muscles of your upper arm, consisting of two heads–short head and long head. These two heads originate from the coracoid process of the scapula and supraglenoid tubercle, just above the shoulder joint, respectively.

 The muscle is attached to the arm bones by dense connective tissues, also known as tendons, that connect the muscle to the shoulder joint and forearm bones at the elbow. It allows the flexion and rotation of your upper limbs.

What is Biceps Tendinitis?

Even though biceps tendons are firm and tough, overusing them may cause inflammation or soreness. Inflammation of biceps tendons is known as biceps tendinitis. There are different types of irritation in biceps tendons, such as:

  • Proximal biceps tendinitis at shoulder
  • Proximal biceps tear at your shoulder
  • Distal biceps tendinitis at the elbow
  • Distal biceps tear at the elbow

Causes of Biceps Tendinitis

Inflammation may occur due to overuse of the muscle, tendon degeneration, sudden pressure applied on the tendons, etc. It can happen due to the normal aging process. Athletic professionals such as swimmers, baseball players, or golfers are also at risk because of the repetitive motion of limbs. There are good surgical treatments for biceps tendonitis in Atlanta.


Some common signs and symptoms of biceps tendinitis include:

  • Pain sensations in the front of the shoulder
  • Weakness in shoulder and arm
  • Tenderness in shoulder
  • An occasional snapping noise may be heard
  • Peculiar appearance as muscle bunches together, also known as a “popeye”
  • Pain sensations moving down the humerus (arm bone)
  • Pain during rotation or twisting of the forearm

Overview & Symptoms of Biceps Tear

Biceps tear is the complete or partial tear of a tendon, either proximally at your shoulder or distally at the elbow. The latter is more uncommon. Biceps tear can be due to sudden overload on the muscle or tendon. That means a biceps tear can be avoided if you are careful when performing activities. A biceps tendon tear can be complete or partial. Some common symptoms include:

  • Sudden, sharp pain at your shoulder or elbow
  • Audible popping or snapping sound may be heard
  • Intense pain and soreness in the biceps muscle
  • Presence of bruises in the upper arm
  • A change in the contour of the anterior side of the upper arm, also known as ”Popeye Muscle”

What are Proximal Biceps Tears?

Proximal biceps tears are the complete or partial rupture of the biceps tendons at your shoulder. Two biceps tendons attach the muscle to the shoulder at the supraglenoid tubercle (long head) and the coracoid process (short head). Tearing of the tendon is more common in the long head of biceps brachii.

What are Distal Biceps Tears?

Only one biceps tendon has an attachment to the elbow, and the rupture of this tendon is known as distal biceps tears. Tears of distal biceps tendon rarely happen and usually occur due to an injury or heavy weightlifting.

Common symptoms include pain and bruising in the front of the elbow and weakness in palm activities and elbow twisting. If you notice these symptoms, get in touch with a physician. Your physician will conduct tests and confirm that this is the case.

Treatment of Biceps Tendonitis

Even though biceps tendonitis may cause intense pain, it can be alleviated by proper care and treatment, such as:

  • Lifting heavy objects should be avoided
  • Flexing of the elbow should be avoided
  • Overhead arm motions should not avoided
  • Ice packs will reduce the bruising or swelling caused by tendinitis
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, e.g., Ibuprofen/Aspirin) will reduce the pain sensations
  • Physiotherapy may be needed to reduce the distress and pain
  • Corticosteroid injections into the biceps tendon sheath will help the patient to reduce inflammation and irritations.

Surgery is required depending on the severity of the tendinitis to regain the stability and strength of your injured muscle if the conservative treatment fails.

The surgical procedure consists of arthroscopic and minimal open surgery. By using a tiny camera and instruments, the surgeon will make three little incisions and locate the shoulder joint and biceps tendon. During the operation, the wounded tissues from the tendon will be removed, and later, the biceps will be anchored to the arm bone after making necessary incisions.

The surgery for biceps tendinitis is done in a day. That means you do not have to stay in the hospital in Atlanta. You can come and leave on the same day.

Possible Risks & Complications

Risks and complications in biceps tendon surgery are very unusual, although some complications include: re-tear, post-operative stiffness, and constant soreness. Nerve/vessel damage or a postoperative infection may occur, as with any other surgical operation.

How Much Time Will It Take to Recover?

Post-operative recovery requires at least 6 months. The doctor may recommend physical therapy and wearing a brace. You may not drive while wearing a brace or taking painkillers. As running can increase stress on the shoulder joint, it should be avoided for 90 days from the day of the surgery.

Returning to athletic activities or field sports depends on your improvement graph. Usually, it takes 5-6 months of rest and rehabilitation to get back the optimum strength of your limb. This recovery depends on getting proper physical therapy, your lifestyle, and your luck.

But prevention is always better than cure. Prevention of biceps tendonitis can be possible through awareness and following these rules:

  • Sudden pressure should not be applied
  • Weight and work rate should be increased gradually while performing physical activities
  • Overhead motion movements of upper limbs should be done carefully
  • Proper technique and posture should be maintained

How are Proximal Biceps Tears Treated?

If there is no improvement seen after conservative treatment, surgery in Atlanta is the safest way to heal proximal biceps tears with little complications. It’s quite rare to find re-tearing after a successful surgery. To get back full strength and flexibility, you have to strictly follow the rules and regulations and do physical therapy for several months.

How are Distal Biceps Tears Treated?

In the case of distal biceps tears, people usually lose palm-up rotation strength. But the good news is that in this situation, flexion or rotation of the arm is quite possible.

To avoid muscle scarring, followed by permanent muscle atrophy, surgery is needed immediately after the diagnosis of distal biceps tears. To get back a full range of motions and stability, at least 3 months of rehabilitation and physical therapy are required.

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