Overview on bicep tendonitis

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Bicep tendonitis involves injury or pain involving one of the bicep tendons in the shoulder joint.

The condition rarely develops alone. It is due to overuse, shoulder instability, tendon impingement or trauma. Understandably, it coexists with other shoulder conditions or injuries including rotator cuff tears, rotator cuff impingement syndrome, labral tears, shoulder instability and SLAP lesions. The injury is prevalent in sports that involve throwing, gymnastics, swimming and some contact sports.

Pain or discomfort of the anterior shoulder that is located over the bicipital groove which oftentimes radiates down the elbow.


Bicep tendonitis generally triggers the following indications:

  • Pain or discomfort of the anterior shoulder that is located over the bicipital groove which oftentimes radiates down the elbow
  • Overhead activities typically instigate pain especially positions that combine abduction and external rotation
  • Muscle weakness along with snapping or clicking during shoulder movement
  • Pain is worsened by shoulder or elbow flexion and forearm supination

Management of bicep tendonitis

The treatment for bicep tendonitis is based on the type but the underlying cause should be dealt with since this is rarely an isolated injury.

During the initial phase, the individual is not likely to fully raise his/her arm or sleep comfortably. The initial aim is to provide active rest from any aggravating movements or posture.

Taping of the shoulder can help provide relief. In some cases, the individual should sleep upright or with a pillow support.

The application of ice can help reduce the pain and swelling. The pack must be applied for 20-30 minutes every 2-4 hours during the initial phase.

The physiotherapist will utilize a variety of pain-relieving measures including joint mobilization, massage, dry needling or acupuncture to assist up to the phase that is free from pain.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on biceps tendonitis is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this type of tendon condition, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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