Bicipital tendinitis

Bicipital tendinitis is an inflammation of one of the tendons that attach the muscle (biceps) on the front of the upper arm bone (humerus) to the shoulder joint. The inflammation usually occurs along the groove (bicipital groove) where the tendon passes over the humerus to attach just above the shoulder joint. See a picture of the shoulder.

Causes may include:

  • Overuse, especially in athletes who use throwing motions.
  • Inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or bursitis.
  • Infection.
  • Injury.

Symptoms may include:

  • Shoulder pain that may spread down the front of the arm.
  • Tenderness where the biceps meets the shoulder (bicipital groove).
  • Decreased shoulder movement and pain.
  • A bulge in the biceps (if one of the biceps tendons ruptures).

Treatment includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), gentle exercise, stopping smoking, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Smoking can interfere with healing of tendinitis by decreasing blood supply and delaying tissue repair. A sling may be used temporarily for comfort. In rare cases, surgery is recommended if home treatment does not help.

Last Updated: September 19, 2009

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