One of your strongest muscles is the biceps, which is located on the front side of your upper arm. Its purpose is to stabilize the humerus (upper arm bone), which is attached to your shoulder socket. The biceps also enables you to accelerate or decelerate your arm during overhead movements, such as when you’re playing tennis or tossing a baseball.
The biceps are connected to the shoulder in two places by cord-like structures called tendons, which also connect the biceps to the radius, a small bone in the lower arm. When these tendons become inflamed, it means you’re suffering from a condition called tendonitis.
The orthopedic doctors at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in San Antonio are experts at diagnosing and treating biceps tendonitis. Learn more about the condition below.
Tendonitis Signs and Symptoms
Repetitive overhead activity often results in injury to the biceps tendons. Symptoms of tendonitis include:
- Pain when you bend your arm or raise it overhead
- Contained tenderness when the affected tendon passes over the groove in your upper arm bone
- A snapping sound or sensation heard or felt in the shoulder area
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your doctor will examine your shoulder area and assess your range of motion along with any tenderness or signs of shoulder instability by asking you to raise or rotate your arm. You may also undergo X-rays to reveal any associated conditions that could be causing irritation.
Depending on the severity of your pain, your doctor may also request an MRI to assess any damage to the tendons. That’s because overuse of your arm, aging, or stress can cause the tendon to deteriorate whether or not there is any inflammation present.
First, your doctor will recommend conservative treatment, such as resting your arm and shoulder or switching to another sport or activity in the meantime. Your doctor may also recommend cold compress with ice packs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. In addition, your doctor may suggest stretching and progressive strengthening exercises to help build muscle endurance and restore your range of motion before you can gradually continue overhead activity.
Surgical Options for Tendonitis
If your pain is the result of shoulder instability or from stress on the tendon from your shoulder bones, your orthopedic doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery. This minimally invasive procedure enables the surgeon to examine the shoulder joint and anchor the tendon properly by using fiber optic technology and miniature instruments inserted through a small incision.
Following surgery, your orthopedic physician will prescribe a rehabilitation program that includes stretching and strengthening exercises that meet your specific physical needs. Early movement is important to your recovery. However, wait for your physician’s approval before you engage in any heavy lifting or return to sports or other strenuous activities.
If you think you might be suffering from biceps tendonitis, the physicians at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in San Antonio can promptly diagnose and treat your condition, relieve your pain, and restore your range of motion. To schedule an appointment, call us at (210) 692-7400 or complete our convenient online form.