Bicep Tendonitis | Physiotherapy Treatment

Bicep Tendonitis is a condition when there is inflammation and tear of the tendons and tissues in the biceps region of your arms. It can be swelling, bruises, and inflammation that can cause pain, reduced movement, and difficulty in engaging your arms in daily activities.

This can be a result of injury, extreme pressure on the biceps due to sports, and other forms of pressure such as heavy lifting, impact, etc that cause the tear of the soft tissue. It can be cured with rest, medical intervention, and physiotherapy. Here is a quick guide to the causes, symptoms, and treatment for bicep tendonitis.

Bicep Tendonitis Types

Injuries to the biceps include Proximal biceps tendon tear at the shoulder and Distal biceps tendonitis and tear at the elbow.

Proximal biceps tendon tear at the shoulder occurs when the tendons that are connected to the biceps and the shoulder are injured. In most cases, the “long hand” tendon that connects the muscle to the top of the shoulder socket is injured. The “shorthand” tendon that connects the biceps to the front of the shoulder may also be injured.

In distal bicep tendonitis, the injury or tear occurs in the tendon that connects the bicep to the elbow region of the arm. This can result in weakness in the arms, reduced mobility, and severe pain. It can occur due to heavy pressure on the elbows.

Bicep Tendonitis Causes

Extreme pressure on the distal and proximal tendons causes bicep tendonitis. Activities such as intensive physical activities include high-contact sports. Lifting heavy objects, and engaging in rigorous physical activities such as weight lifting can also cause tears in the tendons. It can also occur during an accident when someone faces blunt face trauma to the region that results in the tear of the tendons.

General wear and tear can be accelerated by repetitive functions of the biceps, and poor posture as well. This can be aggravated due to injuries to the muscle, and weakness in the muscles and bones.

Bicep Tendonitis Risk Factors

People with repetitive strain injury are more likely to suffer from Bicep Tendonitis, and poor technique while playing sports and other activities. Other risk factors include old age, which results in more wear and tear of the tendons, lifestyle such as smoking, and low physical activities as well. Any form of labor that includes heavy strain on the biceps, shoulder, and elbow can increase the possibility of bicep tendonitis.

Bicep Tendonitis Symptoms

Symptoms of tendonitis include pain in the shoulder and arm region and at the elbow region that intensifies as you engage the arms and the biceps. In some cases, the severity may be low and in some high, where the pain intensifies while trying to lift objects or move the hand freely.

Other symptoms include pain while moving, muscle weakness, swelling and bruising in the regions, and difficulty in rotation of the arms.

One can also experience stiffness in the elbow region as well.

Bicep Tendonitis Diagnosis

Physical examination of the injury is one of the most common ways of diagnosing the condition. The doctor may ask for physical conditions such as pain while moving the arms. They can also suggest you perform a few exercises such as extension, flexion, and rotation of the shoulder and elbows. This may give the doctor an idea of the severity of the condition.

This will be followed by blood tests and X-ray and MRI scans, in order to understand the intensity of the injury and identify and locate the injury site. It also allows the doctors to ascertain any injury or damage to the soft tissues and muscles, and understand any injury to the bones.

The Bicep tendonitis test also serves as a test for arthritis. They can also be prescribed to understand if there is an onset of it that aggravates the injury. 

Bicep Tendonitis Treatment

One of the most effective ways of treating it is to follow the RICE method, where Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation are administered. Rest allows the muscle and the tendons to relax and recover, while Ice prevents inflammation and clotting. Compression also helps reduce pain and increase blood flow. Elevation can help reduce pain and improve movement and circulation.

Other forms of treatment are braces that immobilize the region affected and prevent any further impact or injury on the tendons. Medications such as pain reliever balms and anti-inflammatory drugs can also be prescribed.

In severe cases, surgery may be performed to treat the injury and surgically fix the tear in tendons. This is followed by rest and physiotherapy.

Bicep Tendonitis: Physiotherapy Treatment

Ice therapy allows the body to recover and prevents further damage to the muscle and tendons. It also relieves pain and can reduce inflammation. Heat Therapy allows the increase in blood circulation and reduces pain and inflammation and can help improve the tendon health

Ultrasound therapy can help reduce the pressure on the tendons and gentle massage can help increase healing as it reduces inflammation and heals soft tissue damage. Kinesiology tapes can help reduce the stress on the muscle and aid the proper movement of the hands and elbows reducing the pain and intensity of the bicep tendons.

Range of motion exercises for bicep tendonitis can help increase mobility, strengthen the muscles and recover quicker. This needs to be gradual and done under medical supervision.

Endurance bicep tendonitis exercises done gradually can help increase muscle strength and reduce the risk of tendon tears.

To Keep in Mind

  • Bicep tendonitis occurs when the tendons that connect the shoulder to the bicep or the elbow end up with a tear due to stress
  • They can be painful, reduce mobility and take months to heal
  • Can be cured with physiotherapy, medication, and self-care
  • Medications include anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Strengthening exercises are important to ensure that the healing is positive.