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A Guide for Biceps Tendinitis

There are many injuries that people can experience when working out. Once common issue we encounter is biceps tendinitis or biceps tendinopathy. This condition can be painful and limiting, but with the right knowledge and treatment, individuals can regain their strength and mobility. We will help explain what biceps tendinopathy is, its causes, symptoms, and the treatment options available to help you recover effectively.

What is Biceps Tendinitis?

Biceps tendinitis, also known as bicipital tendinitis or tendinopathy, is a condition characterized by inflammation or irritation of the long head of the biceps tendon. This tendon connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder joint and plays a crucial role in the movement of the shoulder and arm. When this tendon becomes inflamed, it can lead to pain, weakness, and reduced range of motion in the shoulder. The term “-itis” in this context refers to the acute nature of the injury whereas “opathy” refers to the injury being more chronic (e.g. >3-6 months).

Causes of Biceps Tendinitis

Several factors can contribute to the development of biceps tendinitis:

  1. Overuse or Repetitive Movements: Engaging in repetitive overhead activities, such as throwing, lifting improperly, or reaching for heavy objects, can strain the biceps tendon over time.

  2. Aging: As we age, our tendons become less flexible and more prone to injury. This makes older individuals more susceptible to biceps tendinitis.

  3. Poor Shoulder Mechanics: Improper shoulder mechanics, such as poor posture or muscle imbalances, can increase stress on the biceps tendon.

  4. Sports Injuries: Athletes involved in sports like baseball, swimming, tennis, and weightlifting are at a higher risk of developing biceps tendinitis due to the repetitive and forceful movements involved.

  5. Other Shoulder Conditions: Conditions like rotator cuff tears or shoulder impingement can contribute to biceps tendinitis by altering the mechanics of the shoulder joint.

Symptoms of Biceps Tendinitis

The symptoms of biceps tendinitis can vary in intensity and may include:

  1. Pain: Typically felt at the front of the shoulder and may radiate down the arm.

  2. Weakness: Difficulty with activities that require lifting, reaching, or carrying objects.

  3. Reduced Range of Motion: Limited ability to move the shoulder and arm, especially overhead.

  4. Tenderness: The affected area may be tender to the touch.

  5. Swelling: In some cases, mild swelling can occur around the biceps tendon.

Treatment Options for Biceps Tendinitis

Treating biceps tendinitis often involves a combination of conservative approaches, such as physical therapy and lifestyle modifications:

  1. Rest and Activity Modification: Reducing or avoiding activities that worsen symptoms is crucial to allow the tendon to heal.

  2. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise program to strengthen the shoulder muscles, improve flexibility, and correct any mechanical issues contributing to the condition.

  3. Ice and Heat Therapy: Applying ice to the affected area can reduce inflammation, while heat therapy can help relax and soothe the muscles.

  4. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended by a healthcare professional.

  5. Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, a doctor may administer corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain.

  6. Surgery: If conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair or release the damaged tendon.

How can Hybrid Physical Therapy help?

At Hybrid Physical Therapy, we treat bicep injuries all the time. It's an injury that hinders a lot of athletes and can be discouraging when striving for your athletic goals. Our therapists customize an exercise program to meet the individual needs of each patient. Whether you’re an athlete trying to return to sport or a person looking to throw a ball around the park again, we’re here to help. Trust that our physical therapists will provide exceptional 1-on-1 care to give you the attention you deserve to address your symptoms, faster.

Let Hybrid Physical Therapy be the ones to guide you to the road to success and optimize your performance.

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