Sports Injuries: Biceps Tendonitis

Sports Injuries: Biceps Tendonitis


The biceps tendons attach the biceps
muscle to the shoulder bone.

What is Biceps Tendonitis:


This condition occurs when the tendon that passes through the bicipital groove becomes inflamed and painful with increased activity and insufficient recovery time. Prolonged inflammation can cause tissue repair to be hindered, damaging the muscle.

Biceps Tendonitis can present with pain in the front of the shoulder; swelling, weakness, a clicking or catching sensation; difficulty using the arm and shoulder, which are often caused by microscopic muscle tears and strains resulting from excessive exercise and repetitive strain. Initial onset could manifest in a slight ache that starts in the upper arm implying that the biceps tendon is being compromised. Continuing the same rigorous exercise regime without having enough rest will also cause the condition to deteriorate, thus recovery time is important.

Shoulder pains can be related to muscle balance in the rotator cuff and other muscles associated with the arm. The pain can be intensified by overreaching the arm, pulling, and lifting with the arm as well as repetitive activities that use the arm and shoulder.

Biceps Tendonitis can also be associated with other shoulder conditions such as subacromial impingement and rotator cuff tears. Shoulder movements can also become unbalanced or instable.

Due to the heavy loads regularly placed on the biceps, weightlifters are at substantial risk for this condition. Enduring torn biceps while completing biceps curls is typically how the injury occurs. Footballers, skiers, gymnasts, tennis players, rowers, boxers, wrestlers and throwing sports like javelin, discus and shot-put are at higher risk for biceps tendonitis. Older athletes and men are also more vulnerable to this injury.

Image 3: Biceps tendinitis causes the tendon to become red and swollen. (


Image 2: Normal shoulder anatomy.


  • Postural irregularities, poor techniques when exercising, or increased stress on the joint.
  • Repetitive motions of the shoulder and arm, often seen in athletes, makes them vulnerable, because of overuse and over-strain of the tendons when needing to lift weights, swing a racquet, complete a set of pull-ups or even swimming a few lengths.
  • Ageing, getting older can subject anyone to this condition, as we age the collagen in our tendons break down and become less elastic, gets irritated, frayed, or ruptured easily.



Symptoms of Biceps Tendonitis:

  • Pain and tenderness in the front shoulder gets worse when using the hand and a pain that moves down the upper arm bone.
  • Clicking or catching sensations when using the arm and shoulder.
  • Swelling of the shoulder.
  • Difficulty using the arm and shoulder.
  • Reduced range if movement when trying to bend the elbow and rotating the forearm outward.
  • Weakness of the arm.


Treatment and Prevention:

Biceps Tendonitis usually takes between 6 weeks to a few months to heal, without having any long-term effects.

It is important to:

  • Rest the shoulder and avoid the activity that caused the injury.
  • Ice the affected area for 15 minutes at a time to reduce swelling. Thereafter regular ice treatment for the 1st week is also advised
  • Take medicine for pain and swelling, such as NSAIDS or over the counter Ibuprofen.
  • Follow a home exercise program (recommended by a healthcare professional) for stretching and strengthening the arm and shoulder.

An Osteopathic practitioner can create a treatment plan to improve healing by implementing specific joint articulations, soft tissue techniques, lymphatic drainage techniques (to name a few), which will help to reduce the pain, improve stability of the shoulder, and improve the range of movement of the shoulder. The treatment plan will also involve patient involvement with prescribing rehabilitation exercises to help get the patient back to normal activity as soon as possible.
Remember to:

  • Check your posture.
  • Avoid repetitive overhand movement.
  • Avoid lifting and carrying heavy objects away from the body.
  • include strengthening exercises as part of your workouts.


Contact Osteovision to discuss your symptoms and a member of the specialist team will be there to assist you.

Call: 03303 904 300