Are you experiencing shoulder pain? Does the discomfort worsen when you perform overhead tasks or lifting motions? If so, then you may be experiencing a condition known as bicep tendonitis. As the name suggests, it is the inflammation of the long head of the biceps tendon. Considered to be a fairly common cause of shoulder pain, it can result in inflammation of the biceps tendon.
This is often caused by repetitive overhead motions in addition to the natural wear and tear from daily activities. For this reason, it would be a prudent decision to visit your physiotherapy clinic in Calgary to gain clarity on your condition.
However, you can also acquire a preliminary education right here and right now. Keep reading to learn more.
Signs and Symptoms
Physiotherapy treatment is available in Calgary for this condition. However, it helps to first be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with biceps tendonitis. The main symptoms are pain in front of the shoulder as well as your muscles being tender to the touch. Generally, the pain worsens when performing any overhead tasks or lifting activities.
Referred pain down the elbow or towards the neck is also not uncommon. Often described as an occasional "snapping" sound, you may hear it when moving the shoulder. Additionally, a "catching" or "clicking" sensation may also be felt.
As the condition progresses, you end up with reduced mobility and compromised function of the shoulder joint. This is your body’s natural response to offset the pain, which in turn, results in muscle weakness around the shoulder joint when reaching overhead or lifting/carrying objects.
In addition, if the biceps are torn, patients may also experience sharp pain in the upper arm, painful pops, bruising, etc.
Causes of Biceps Tears
Many factors can be at fault for bicep tears, one variable is the aging process. As we age, there is a gradual degeneration of our tendons. The bicep muscles – located at the front of the upper arm – help in the movements that involve raising the arm or bending it at the elbow.
The biceps include two tendons that attach the muscle to the shoulder bones, and one that attaches the muscle to the radius bone at the elbow. If these tendons become irritated or injured, they can develop micro-tears that lead to full tears, which results in pain and inflammation – ultimately requiring bicep tendonitis treatment.
Moreover, biceps tendonitis often comes with other shoulder problems, such as rotator cuff injuries, shoulder arthritis, muscle tears, and shoulder stiffness.
Another cause of tears in the biceps tendon can occur either from overuse or a specific injury. If overuse is the cause, the tendon will wear away and eventually tear. Injuries from twisting the elbow or falling on an outstretched arm can also lead to a biceps tear.
You should see a doctor or physical therapist if you suspect you have biceps tendonitis. They will perform a complete evaluation, which includes your medical history, a physical examination and a series of assessments for strength, flexibility, and sensation. Additional tests like x-rays and MRIs are not typically needed for the diagnosis, but they may be used for some patients.
Since biceps tendonitis often occurs along with other shoulder problems, these tests will determine if any other issues are present.
Biceps tendonitis and partial biceps tears in the majority of patients will improve after following a course of conservative (non-surgical) action. Some general home remedies that can be used are:
- Rest: Avoid overhead activities and any other movements requiring the use of the shoulder that can make the pain worse.
- Ice: Apply ice or a cold agent to the shoulder 3-4 times a day to keep the swelling down.
Once biceps tendinitis has been diagnosed, your physical therapist will work with you to develop an individualized plan accommodating your goals. There are many physical therapy treatment options that are proven to be very effective in treating this condition
Your therapist will work on improving:
- Pain Management: Pain management education, postural correction and positioning, avoiding triggers and use of modalities.
- Range of Motion: Improving ROM using mobilization techniques, soft tissue techniques and home exercise programs.
- Strength and Functional Training: Using graded and progressive resistance training with free weights, exercise bands, and other gym equipment.
You can reduce your chances of getting bicep issues by:
- Warming up and stretching the shoulder muscles before engaging in any physical activity, especially if it requires overhead motions.
- Avoid overworking the shoulder with too many overhead activities that can cause pain.
- Avoid lifting or carrying heavy objects held away from the body; try keeping hefty objects close to your body.
- Try to maintain proper posture at all times.
- Perform exercises to strengthen the muscles in and around your shoulders.
- Gradually build your strength training intensity.
- Do not dive into sports unprepared.
- Exercise regularly, including stretching.
- Ease into new exercise routines.
- Stretch after exercising.
- Take regular breaks from repetitive movements.
Whether you feel a slight shoulder soreness gnawing at you or a more intense and acute pain, it’s important to speak with a professional who can properly diagnose and treat the affliction. Our team of expert physical therapists at Panther Sports Medicine are trained and certified to help you with your shoulder injury.
And with two locations in Calgary – conveniently located in Oakridge and Country Hills – specializing in shoulder injury treatment, you’ll be sure to find the assistance you need to resolve your shoulder pain. Contact us today to learn more.