Biceps Tendinopathy

Biceps Tendinopathy

John Miller Physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

Biceps Tendinopathy

What is a Biceps Tendinopathy?

Biceps tendinopathy encompasses various biceps injuries, such as:

  • Biceps tendonitis (inflamed tendon)
  • Biceps tendinosis (non-inflamed degenerative tendon)
  • Biceps tenosynovitis (inflamed tendon sheath)
  • Ruptured biceps tendon (due to degeneration or tear)

While many traditionally referred to these injuries as biceps tendonitis, today’s physiotherapists and doctors more commonly use the term biceps tendinopathy.

Locating the Biceps Tendon

Knowing the anatomy of the biceps muscle helps in understanding biceps tendinopathy. The biceps brachii consists of two parts: the short and long heads. The long head often shows symptoms. This long head runs over the humerus head (the ball joint) and connects at the top of the shoulder socket. It plays a crucial role in stabilising the shoulder joint. The biceps tendon passes through the bicipital groove at the shoulder’s front, where inflammation, primarily due to friction, frequently happens. If inflammation arises, it results in biceps tendonitis or tendinopathy.

Causes of Biceps Tendinopathy

Biceps tendinopathy rarely occurs on its own. It’s prevalent in sports like swimming, gymnastics, and certain contact sports. Factors such as overuse, tendon impingement, shoulder joint instability, or trauma can lead to its development. It often pairs with other shoulder issues, such as rotator cuff tears and shoulder instability. People in jobs demanding overhead shoulder tasks or heavy lifting face higher risks.

Identifying Biceps Tendinopathy Symptoms

biceps tendinopathy can casue pain on the front of the shoulder when lifting
Biceps Tendinopathy Is A Common Source Of Anterior Shoulder Pain

Those suffering from bicep tendonitis and tendinopathy often experience:

  • Anterior shoulder pain, sometimes extending to the elbow.
  • Pain during overhead activities, particularly when combining abduction and external rotation.
  • Increased pain with shoulder flexion, forearm supination, or elbow flexion.
  • Some report muscle weakness or a snapping sensation during shoulder movements.
  • Rest and ice typically relieve the symptoms.

Diagnosing Biceps Tendinopathy

Based on your symptoms and history, a physiotherapist or doctor might identify biceps tendinopathy. Ultrasonography and MRI are the top diagnostic tools. For detailed diagnostic guidance on your shoulder issue, consult a reputable shoulder healthcare expert.

Treatment Options for Bicep Tendinopathy

The type of tendinopathy dictates the treatment approach. It’s essential to pinpoint and address the cause of your tendinopathy.

For inflammatory conditions like tendonitis, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections might help, along with ice application. On the other hand, tendinosis, being non-inflammatory, might not benefit from these treatments. Instead, specific tendon strengthening exercises, as advised by a physiotherapist, prove effective.

For a ruptured biceps tendon, especially recent ones, you might need a referral to an Orthopaedic Surgeon. However, in middle and older age these tendon are rarely repaired.

Managing Pain

In the initial stages, lifting your arm or sleeping might be uncomfortable. The primary goal is active rest, meaning refraining from activities that trigger pain. Your physiotherapist can guide you on the best resting positions or provide special taping for pain relief. Using ice can also help reduce pain and swelling.

Educating Patients and Correcting Techniques

Understanding the cause of your biceps tendinopathy is vital. Your physiotherapist can shed light on activities and postures that might worsen your condition and might suggest adjustments to your technique or workload.

Enhancing Joint Stability and Strength

Addressing joint stability and function is essential. Your physiotherapist can guide you through exercises that improve stability and strength, particularly if joint instability is the primary cause.

Considering Neck and Upper Back Posture

Your neck and upper back play a role in shoulder posture and control. Sometimes, stiffness or pain from inflamed neck joints can impact shoulder function. Your physiotherapist can advise on treating neck and upper back issues.

Restoring Normal Function

Your rehabilitation will depend on your shoulder’s specific needs. If your injury comes from a sport, high-speed activities or repetitive motions might be the culprits. Your physiotherapist can guide you through exercises to prevent re-injury and enhance performance.

Biceps Tendinopathy Prognosis

Most bicipital tendinopathies respond well to rehabilitation. Though ruptured tendons might not always need surgery, they typically respond favourably to a well-guided physiotherapy program. The recovery time can vary, depending on the associated conditions.

Returning to Sport or Work

A tailored exercise regimen, considering your sport or job, is crucial for a safe return. Your physiotherapist can work with you, setting goals and schedules, ensuring a smooth transition back to your activities.

In Conclusion

Progressing through rehabilitation varies from person to person. Your physiotherapist will monitor each stage, ensuring a seamless shift between phases based on your assessment and improvement. Remember, thorough rehabilitation minimises the risk of future injuries. Stay patient, dedicated, and in close contact with your healthcare professional.

Stay safe and keep your shoulders healthy! If in doubt, please seek professional advice.

Related Articles

  • Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy: Discusses various conditions related to the shoulder’s rotator cuff tendons.
  • Shoulder Pain: Offers comprehensive insights into different shoulder conditions, including shoulder impingement and bursitis, which can be linked with biceps tendinopathy​​.
  • Rotator Cuff Tear: Covers conditions like bicep tendinopathy and rotator cuff tears, providing a broader understanding of related shoulder issues​​.
  • Effective Shoulder Impingement Treatment and Advice: Details the causes and treatment options for shoulder impingement, a condition that can accompany biceps tendinopathy​​.
  • Rotator Cuff Exercises: Highlights exercises and therapies for shoulder rehabilitation, which can be beneficial for those with biceps tendinopathy​​.
  • Rotator Cuff Injury: Discusses various shoulder-related injuries and conditions, including muscle strains and tendon conditions like tears and tendinopathy, which could be relevant for those suffering from biceps tendinopathy​​.
  • What is Your Rotator Cuff?: An article that describe your rotator cuff and what it does.

John Miller Physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

What are the Common Causes of Shoulder Pain?

Understanding the Causes of Shoulder Pain: A Guide for the General Public

Shoulder pain is a common issue that can stem from various injuries and conditions. Identifying the cause of your shoulder pain is essential for effective treatment and recovery. This article explains the most common causes of shoulder pain and offers practical advice on what to do next.

What Causes Shoulder Pain?
What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilise the shoulder. Injuries here are a frequent cause of shoulder pain. Common conditions include:

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement occurs when shoulder tendons are pinched during arm movements, causing pain and limited mobility. Conditions related to impingement include:

  • Shoulder Impingement: A condition where shoulder tendons are pinched during arm movements, causing pain and limited mobility.
  • Shoulder Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac in the shoulder, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Swimmer’s Shoulder: An overuse injury common in swimmers, causing shoulder pain and impingement symptoms.

Shoulder Stiffness

Stiffness in the shoulder can develop gradually and lead to significant discomfort. Key conditions include:

Shoulder Instability

Instability in the shoulder can lead to recurrent issues. Common causes are:

Acromioclavicular Joint

The acromioclavicular (AC) joint can be damaged, often in athletes or after falls. Conditions include:

  • AC Joint Injury: Involves damage to the acromioclavicular joint, common in athletes and after falls.

Bone Conditions

Bone-related issues can also cause shoulder pain. These include:

Post-Operative Physiotherapy

Recovery from shoulder surgery often requires tailored exercises and therapies. Important procedures include:

  • Subacromial Decompression: A surgical procedure to alleviate shoulder impingement symptoms.
  • Shoulder Arthroscopy: Minimally invasive surgery for various shoulder conditions.
  • Acromioplasty: Surgery to reshape the acromion and relieve impingement.
  • Rotator Cuff Repair: Surgical repair of a torn rotator cuff.
  • SLAP Repair: Surgery to fix a specific type of labrum tear in the shoulder.
  • Biceps Tenodesis: Surgical procedure to reattach the biceps tendon.
  • Biceps Tenotomy: Involves cutting the biceps tendon to relieve pain.
  • Total Shoulder Replacement: Replacement of the shoulder joint with artificial components.

Post-Operative Shoulder Rehabilitation: Essential for recovery, involving tailored exercises and therapies to regain strength and mobility after shoulder surgery.

Muscle Conditions

Muscle-related issues causing shoulder pain include:

Neck Arm Syndromes

Pain in the shoulder can originate from other areas, such as the neck. Conditions include:

  • Neck Arm Pain: Pain that originates in the neck and travels down to the arm and shoulder.
  • Cervical Radiculopathy: Occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated, leading to shoulder pain.
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: A condition where nerves or blood vessels between the collarbone and first rib are compressed, causing pain in the shoulder area.

Systemic Conditions

Chronic conditions can also affect the shoulders. These include:

  • Fibromyalgia: A chronic condition characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain, including in the shoulder.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: An autoimmune disorder that can cause joint pain and damage throughout the body, including the shoulders.

What to Do Next?

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, it is essential to seek professional advice from a physiotherapist. They can assess your condition and develop a personalised treatment plan to address your specific needs.


Shoulder pain can significantly impact your daily life, but understanding its causes is the first step towards effective treatment. By recognising the signs and symptoms of different conditions, you can take the appropriate actions to manage your pain and improve your quality of life.

Shoulder Products & FAQs

Explore our range of shoulder products and find answers to frequently asked questions about shoulder pain and treatment options.

Causes of Shoulder Pain FAQs

1. What are the common causes of shoulder pain?

Common causes include rotator cuff injuries, shoulder impingement, adhesive capsulitis, shoulder instability, AC joint injuries, arthritis, fractures, and muscle strains.

2. How can a physiotherapist help with shoulder pain?

A physiotherapist can assess your condition, provide tailored exercises, and offer treatments to reduce pain and improve mobility.

3. What is rotator cuff tendinopathy?

Rotator cuff tendinopathy is inflammation or damage to the rotator cuff tendons, leading to pain and reduced mobility.

4. How is shoulder impingement treated?

Treatment often includes physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and in some cases, surgery to relieve pressure on the tendons.

5. What should I do if I have a frozen shoulder?

Consult a physiotherapist for a tailored exercise program to improve mobility and reduce pain.

6. Can shoulder pain be related to neck problems?

Yes, conditions like cervical radiculopathy can cause shoulder pain due to nerve compression in the neck.

Related Articles

  1. Rotator Cuff Injuries: Discover causes and treatments for rotator cuff injuries.
  2. Shoulder Impingement: Learn how to manage and treat shoulder impingement.
  3. Frozen Shoulder: Understand the symptoms and treatments for adhesive capsulitis.
  4. Shoulder Dislocation: Find out how to manage shoulder dislocations.
  5. AC Joint Injury: Explore treatment options for AC joint injuries.
  6. Shoulder Arthritis: Learn about managing pain and stiffness from arthritis.
  7. Post-Operative Shoulder Rehabilitation: Understand the recovery process after shoulder surgery.
  8. Muscle Strain Treatments: Discover effective ways to treat muscle strains.
  9. Cervical Radiculopathy: Learn how neck issues can cause shoulder pain.
  10. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Find out about symptoms and treatments for this condition.

Shoulder Pain FAQs

Your Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Managing Shoulder Injuries

Welcome to the "Shoulder Pain FAQs" page, your go-to resource for understanding various aspects of shoulder pain, injuries, and how to manage them effectively. The shoulder is a complex joint that allows for a wide range of movements, but it is also susceptible to various injuries and conditions that can cause discomfort and limitations in daily activities.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the most common shoulder injuries, their causes, and how to identify and treat them. We'll also address frequently asked questions about specific shoulder conditions, providing you with valuable insights into your shoulder health.

shoulder pain guide
Shoulder Pain Guide

When Should You Worry About Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain can be caused by numerous factors, ranging from minor strains to more severe injuries. Knowing when to seek medical attention is crucial to prevent further damage and facilitate timely recovery.

Common Shoulder Injuries

We'll swing into the most prevalent shoulder injuries, shedding light on their causes, symptoms, and appropriate treatment options.

More info: Common Shoulder Injuries

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Understanding the root causes of shoulder pain is fundamental to addressing the issue effectively. We'll explore the various factors that can lead to shoulder discomfort and how to mitigate them.

More info: What Causes Shoulder Pain?

What is Your Scapulohumeral Rhythm?

The scapulohumeral rhythm plays a vital role in shoulder function and movement. We'll explain what it is and its significance in maintaining a healthy shoulder.

More info: What is Your Scapulohumeral Rhythm?

Rotator Cuff: An In-Depth Analysis

The rotator cuff is a critical group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder. We'll dive into its anatomy, functions, and common problems associated with it.

More info: Rotator Cuff: An In-Depth Analysis

How Can You Tell If You Have Torn Your Rotator Cuff?

Identifying a torn rotator cuff can be challenging, but we'll provide you with essential signs to look out for and when to seek professional evaluation.

More info: How Can You Tell If You Have Torn Your Rotator Cuff?

Can You Diagnose A Torn Rotator Cuff Without An MRI?

Find out about diagnostic methods for a torn rotator cuff, including whether an MRI is always necessary for accurate diagnosis.

More info: Can You Diagnose A Torn Rotator Cuff Without An MRI?

Can You Lift Your Arm With A Rotator Cuff Tear?

Discover the limitations and challenges you may face if you have a torn rotator cuff and how to manage arm movement during the healing process.

More info: Can You Lift Your Arm With A Rotator Cuff Tear?

Will Your Shoulder Blade Hurt With A Torn Rotator Cuff?

Learn about the possible relationship between a torn rotator cuff and shoulder blade pain, and what it indicates about your shoulder health.

More info: Will Your Shoulder Blade Hurt With A Torn Rotator Cuff?

Will A Cortisone Injection Help A Torn Rotator Cuff?

Cortisone injections are sometimes used for shoulder pain, but their effectiveness in treating a torn rotator cuff is a point of interest we'll explore.

More info: Will A Cortisone Injection Help A Torn Rotator Cuff?

How Can You Make Your Rotator Cuff Heal Faster?

We'll provide practical tips and strategies to aid in the healing process of a torn rotator cuff and restore shoulder function more rapidly.

More info: How Can You Make Your Rotator Cuff Heal Faster?

Shoulder Bursitis: Understanding the Condition

What is shoulder bursitis, and how does it differ from other shoulder injuries? Get insights into this inflammatory condition and how to manage it.

More info: Shoulder Bursitis: Understanding the Condition

Shoulder Impingement: Causes and Solutions

Understand the concept of the shoulder impingement zone and the factors contributing to rotator cuff impingement and bursitis.

More info: Shoulder Impingement: Causes and Solutions

Frozen Shoulder: Overcoming the Stiffness

Discover how to unfreeze a frozen shoulder and regain a full range of motion through effective therapeutic approaches.

More info: Frozen Shoulder: Overcoming the Stiffness

Shoulder Dislocation/Instability: Seeking Stability

Explore the causes of shoulder dislocation and instability, and the fastest ways to promote healing and prevent future occurrences.

More info: Shoulder Dislocation/Instability: Seeking Stability

Can You Fix Shoulder Instability?

Find out about treatment options to address shoulder instability and regain stability in the joint.

More info: Can You Fix Shoulder Instability?

AC Joint: Identifying and Managing Injuries

Learn how to recognise an injured AC joint and what steps to take for proper care and recovery.

More info: AC Joint: Identifying and Managing Injuries

Swimmers Shoulder: Causes and Remedies

If you're a swimmer or engage in repetitive overhead activities, understanding the causes of swimmer's shoulder and how to prevent it is essential.

More info: Swimmers Shoulder: Causes and Remedies

We hope this comprehensive guide will prove invaluable in your journey to understand and manage shoulder pain and injuries. However, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional for personalised advice and treatment based on your specific condition. Let's dive into the world of shoulder health together!

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