What is it?

Biceps tendinopathy is an inflammation within the biceps tendon, a tendon that connects the biceps muscle on the front of the upper arm to the shoulder.

How does it occur?

Biceps tendinopathy results from overuse of the biceps tendon during things such as lifting objects or raising the arm. The biceps tendon connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder. To reach the shoulder, it passes through a narrow bony groove in the arm bone. In this groove, the biceps tendon is susceptible to ‘wear and tear’ when repetitive use causes rubbing of the tendon against the edges of the bony groove. This results in micro-trauma to the tendon and inflammation known as a tendinopathy.

How does it feel?

Biceps tendinopathy causes pain in the top of the upper arm. Initially, the tendon may only be painful following exercise or the following day. You might also feel stiff and tight in the shoulder. Typically, these initial signs are ignored as they disappear quickly with the use of the arm or heat. However, as you continue to participate in aggravating activities, the tendinopathy progresses and pain becomes more intense for longer and more frequently.

What should you do?

Biceps tendinopathy generally does not get better on its own if the underlying cause is not addressed. If you suspect you have a biceps tendinopathy, consulting your physiotherapist is necessary to begin initial treatment to help settle down the inflammation.

What shouldn’t you do?

If you have or suspect you have a biceps tendinopathy, do not ignore it. Your pain may get better with exercise, however, the exercises you are doing may be interfering with the healing process and cause further damage and prolonged recovery of weeks or months.

Are there any long term effects?

Biceps tendinopathy does not produce any long-term effects as long as it is properly diagnosed and treated. If not, it can lead to prolonged pain and disability.

Management

Consulting a PPS Physiotherapist is important to treat biceps tendinopathy. Initially your physiotherapist can assist in diagnosing the problem and how severe it is. From this we will be able to determine the appropriate treatment plan for you. This may involve activity modification, therapeutic agents such as ultrasound and interferential, soft tissue treatment such as massage and stretches, and progression through a series of specific strengthening exercises. We will also be able to assess and determine why you developed a biceps tendinopathy and address this through advice and education during the recovery period, so that you understand how to prevent it from re-occurring when you return to full activity.

How can a PPS Physio help?

Your PPS Physiotherapist can help diagnose the problem and establish its severity. From this information an appropriate treatment plan can be made to get you back to full recovery as soon as possible.
This may involve activity modification, massage and mobilizations and other therapeutic agents to make you feel better. They will also tell determine and correct any biomechanical or postural issues that predispose you to injury.
Most importantly, your PPS Physiotherapist will provide you with specific stretches and an exercise program to prevent this issue from reoccurring when you return back sport.