There are two heads to the bicep muscle — a short head and a long head. The long head is the bigger of the two, as you would expect. Its proximal tendon, located at the top of the shoulder, is the one that is most commonly irritated in shoulder injuries. When the proximal tendon of the long head of the bicep is irritated, it can cause pain and tenderness at the front of the shoulder. This condition is known as biceps tendonitis.
Biceps tendonitis is a common injury among athletes, usually developing from overuse. Sports that require repetitive arm motions can cause a player to develop microtears that lead to tendonitis. Motions such as throwing, serving, or swinging are the most common causes, so we tend to see this in baseball players, tennis players, volleyball players, and swimmers.
Sometimes, a case of biceps tendonitis is linked to other problems, such as shoulder instability or a rotator cuff tear. When we are diagnosing shoulder pain at MOTUS, we look at the big picture so that we can get to the source of the problem and treat it for the long term results and not just immediate symptom relief.
If athletes ignore a pain or discomfort in their shoulder, the tendonitis can get worse and become harder to treat.
By overusing the biceps and their tendons, athletes keep their shoulder in a state of inflammation. That can lead to tendon degeneration, weakness, and pain. In the worst cases of biceps tendonitis, the tendon tears. It’s much harder to come back from a severe case of tendonitis than it is to treat it right away. Athletes should see a specialist as soon as possible to avoid potential surgery.
A case of biceps tendonitis typically presents with a deep, intense pain at the front of the shoulder. Pain usually worsens when the patient lifts the arm. If biceps instability is also an issue, the patient might also feel a clicking or popping sensation at the front of their shoulder.
In order to get the complete and proper diagnosis, we will take into account your history and the possible cause of injury along with our physical assessment. By learning as much as we can about your unique case and any associated problems, we can create the right therapy program for you. This will probably include strengthening and stretching routines, as well as NMES and Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy.