Bicep Tendonitis

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Bicep tendonitis refers to a condition in which the upper arm tendon that connects the bicep muscle to the shoulder bone becomes inflamed and irritated. This injury is usually the result of wear and tear of the tendon as you age. It is especially prevalent among those who are required to perform extensive overhead lifting and other activity. This may be due to job requirements but it can also be a factor if you play a sport that requires overhead activity. Examples include throwing activity as in baseball and serving/smashing activity as in racquet sports like tennis. Swimming is another sport in which extensive and repeated overhead movements can result in bicep tendonitis.

Bicep tendonitis tends to occur simultaneously with a number of other shoulder conditions, including shoulder arthritis, instability and impingement.

What Are Tendons & Tendonitis?

A tendon is a structure that connects a muscle to an adjacent bone. For example the biceps tendon connects the bicep muscle in the upper arm to the shoulder bone.

Tendonitis refers to a condition in which the tendons that connect muscles to adjacent bones become inflammed and/or irritated. As with most types of tendonitis, bicep tendonitis  is usually an overuse injury that is normally addressed by resting the damaged tendon. This allows it to heal naturally.

Symptoms Of Bicep Tendonitis

Symptoms include:

  • Pain & tenderness at the front of the shoulder joint. This may get worse after repeated or intensive overhead lifting or other movements;
  • The pain may eventually migrate along the upper arm bone down to the shoulder;
  • You may also occasionally experience snapping sounds or sensations in your shoulder joint.

Treatment Of Bicep Tendonitis

Once your doctor has confirmed that you indeed have this condition, he will formulate a treatment program. Treatment of bicep tendonitis will usually in the first place involve resting the injured tendon. To ease the pain, your doctor may suggest you use ice, a cold compress , a topical analgesic or NSAIDS.

Your doctor may also refer you to a physiotherapist who can design a program of rehabilitative exercises for your bicep and shoulder muscles. The aim of these exercises will be to strengthen these muscles and prepare them for the heavy overhead workload that may have caused the injury in the first place.

If these conservative treatment approaches do not eliminate your bicep tendonitis, your doctor may suggest surgery. This can be either an arthroscopic or open incision procedure. Under the former, a specialist will insert a very small camera (arthroscope) into a small incision in your shoulder. He or she will then use the images from the arthroscope to repair your injured tendon using miniature instruments. Under the oprn incision procedure, the surgeon will make a larger incision and repair the tendon using regular size instruments.

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