Bicipital Tendonitis

The long head of biceps tendon runs in a groove at the front of the shoulder (bicipital groove). The tendon can become inflamed and damaged, either through overuse (weightlifting and overhead sports) or simply with time.

What are the symptoms?

The patient usually complains of a pain in the front of the shoulder. The tendon is usually tender to touch and the pain is made worse with overhead activities and exercises which load the biceps muscle.

How is the diagnosis made?

The doctor will take a full history and examine the shoulder and arm. Ultrasound can often reveal fluid around the tendon and damage within the tendon. MRI scanning is occasionally used and can help to rule out other problems within the joint.

The initial treatment is symptomatic and includes rest and anti-inflammatories. An ultrasound guided injection around the tendon in the groove may be suggested. This does not always solve the problem but can be useful in confirming the diagnosis.

If initial treatment does not work, what is next?

Patients may complain of a persistent ache in the front of the arm, made worse by lifting or carrying. If the symptoms are intrusive enough, then surgery may be need.

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