If you ask someone to show you their muscles, they’ll likely roll up a sleeve and flex their biceps brachii muscle. It’s one muscle that nearly everyone knows, although most people will simply call it the “bicep”. This well-known muscle runs along the front of your arm, from the shoulder to the elbow. It bends the elbow, rotates the forearm and assists other muscles in stabilizing the shoulder. Let’s discuss Biceps Tendinitis and how physical therapy can help.
What is biceps tendinitis?
At the top of the biceps, there are two cord-like tendons that connect the muscle to the bone. When one of these tendons becomes irritated and inflamed, it produces a condition called proximal biceps tendinitis. It may also be called bicipital tendinitis.
Patients with this type of tendinitis often have a deep, aching pain at the front of the shoulder. The pain usually worsens when lifting something. And, it doesn’t have to be a particularly heavy object. Even lifting something that weighs just a few pounds – like a carton of milk – can cause a spike in pain.
This condition is common in athletes who participate in baseball, swimming or other sports that involve raising the arm overhead. Other possible causes include repetitive motions, poor posture or a sudden strain to the biceps muscle.
Biceps tendinitis can also occur in the elbow, at the other end of the biceps muscle. When this happens, it’s called distal biceps tendinitis.
Healing biceps tendinitis
Each patient is unique. Your plan for healing your biceps tendinitis will depend on factors like your posture, whether the muscles in your shoulder are strong enough and how badly damaged your bicep tendon is. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you decide what’s best for you.
Treatment usually begins with rest and ice. You may need to wear a sling or avoid lifting heavy items for a while. Most patients with biceps tendinitis will benefit from physical therapy. In some cases, a doctor may recommend an injection to decrease pain and swelling.
Biceps tendinitis usually does not require surgery. However, surgery might be required if you have severe damage to your biceps tendon or damage to other parts of your shoulder.
What should I expect in physical therapy?
Your physical therapist will probably begin by focusing on your shoulder’s movement, or range of motion. Once your shoulder is moving better, you’ll be able to participate in more strenuous shoulder strengthening exercises.
Your therapist may also teach you about posture. Exercises to stretch your chest and strengthen the muscles around your shoulder blade can improve posture. Unhealthy posture can put the biceps tendon in a position where it is more likely to become irritated or damaged.
Edge Physical Therapy
The skilled therapists at Edge Physical Therapy have helped many patients recover from biceps tendinitis. Do you have shoulder pain? We can help, contact us today and start on the road to recovery!