Bicipital Tendinitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Bicipital tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon of the Long Head of Biceps. It is a common cause of shoulder pain.

Pain is located over the front of the shoulder. It is increased by movement of the shoulder and the elbow. Patients are usually above the age of forty. Women are more commonly affected. Tenderness is present over the biceps tendon.

Tendinitis is caused by
  • shoulder instability (laxity and weakness of the shoulder usually due to previous fracture or dislocation)
  • over use
  • direct trauma (injury such as falling on the arm)
  • inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis
Investigations helpful in the diagnosis include
  • x ray of the shoulder (bicipital groove view in addition to routine views)
  • Arthrography ( x ray taken after injection of dye into the shoulder joint)
  • MRI scan

The biceps tendon cannot be seen on x rays. They are to rule out other conditions and can show the presence of any bony defect in the bicipital groove. Arthrography and MRI are usually only required when contemplating surgery.

Treatment of Bicipital tendinitis includes
  • NSAIDs (drugs such as aspirin, diclofenac and ibuprofen)
  • rest to the shoulder by using an arm pouch (sling like device that supports the whole upper limb)
  • heat (hot bottle or infra red lamp)
  • treatment of associated conditions such as instability, rheumatoid arthritis

If the above treatment methods fail then surgery is done. In surgery the tendon is removed from its groove, and is reattached at another site, on the head of humerus.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the chances that a patient may require surgery?

Rarely is surgery required as more than 95% patients improve by non-surgical treatment.

When can I expect spontaneous recovery?

In tendinitis due to overuse and trauma spontaneous recovery is possible.

I hope the information provided was helpful. If you have any query you can ask me at the contact me page.

This page was last updated on 1st April 2009.

Other causes of shoulder pain include...

Subacromial Bursitis

Adhesive Capsulitis

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Shoulder Dislocation

Recurrent Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder Fracture

Go back to Shoulder Pain from Bicipital tendinitis


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