Dr. McCauley June 2014
Physical Therapist Guide to Biceps Tendinitis
Biceps tendinitis is a common cause of shoulder pain, often developing in people who perform repetitive, overhead movements. Biceps tendinitis develops over time, with pain located at the front of the shoulder, and usually worsens with continued activity. When treating biceps tendinitis, physical therapists work to determine the exact source of the pain by assessing the entire shoulder, and typically prescribe a program of activity modification, stretching, and strengthening to resolve pain and return individuals to their desired activities.
The biceps muscle is made up of 2 parts, the long head and the short head, in which the long head of the biceps is the most common involved. The biceps run from the elbow region up the length of the arm and attach into the shoulder joint. Biceps tendinitis result when excessive, abnormal forces are applied across the tendon, including tension (a pulling of the muscle and tendon), compression (pushing or pinching), or shearing (rubbing). When the tendon is subjected to repetitive stresses, it can become irritated, swollen, and painful.
There are many factors that may lead to biceps tendinitis, including:
- Activities requiring repetitive overhead movement of the arms
- Weakness in the rotator cuff and muscles of the upper back
- Shoulder joint and/or muscle tightness
- Poor body mechanics (how a person controls his or her body when moving)
- An abrupt increase in an exercise routine
- Age-related body changes
With biceps tendinitis, you may experience:
- Sharp pain in the front of your shoulder when you reach overhead
- Tenderness to touch at the front of your shoulder
- Pain that may radiate toward the neck or down the front of the arm
- Dull, achy pain at the front of the shoulder, especially following activity
- Weakness felt around the shoulder joint, usually experienced when lifting or carrying objects or reaching overhead
- A sensation of “catching” or “clicking” in the front of the shoulder with movement
- Pain when throwing a ball
- Difficulty with daily activities, such as reaching behind your back to tuck in your shirt, or putting dishes away in an overhead cabinet
Do any of these sound familiar to you? Biceps tendinitis is more common than you think! Most people just ignore it and think it is just a little discomfort in the shoulder area, but it does not go away easily or without a fight! A physical therapist can help with pain management, strengthening the shoulder area, manual therapy surrounding the shoulder joint, range of motion, and functional training. Give the office a call today if you are interested in finding out more about how physical therapy can help you.
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