Biceps tendinosis commonly occurs with either biceps tendinitis, a rotator cuff injury, or bursitis.
What is Biceps Tendinosis?
Biceps tendinosis is not an inflammatory issue, but a degenerative one. The tendons connecting the long head of the biceps muscle to the cartilage surrounding the shoulder joint begin to deteriorate and cause intense pain. The condition is worsened when the arm is lifted overhead in daily activities or sports such as swimming or tennis.
Causes of Biceps Tendinosis
Biceps tendinosis is most often caused by an injury due to sport or overuse from specific types of work. It can also be a part of normal aging. Any activity which requires repeated over-the-head motions such as throwing or contact sports can cause biceps tendinosis. It is not a sudden injury, but is caused from overuse over long periods of time.
Symptoms of Biceps Tendinosis
The symptoms of biceps tendinosis are similar to other conditions such as biceps tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, or bursitis. Patients with biceps tendinosis complain of a deep ache in the front and top of the shoulder. The pain deepens and worsens with any overhead activity. These symptoms usually worsen over time if left untreated.
Diagnosing Biceps Tendinosis
A doctor will evaluate your medical history, discuss the severity of symptoms, and examine the range of motion in the shoulder that has pain in order to diagnose biceps tendinosis. A doctor may ask questions about recent activity and ongoing use of your shoulder and arm, especially regarding overhead use of your arm.
In some cases, imaging will be required to accurately diagnose biceps tendinosis. Imaging involves either an ultrasound or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Once a clear image of the tendon is created, a doctor will be able to determine if the tendon is actually deteriorating or if there are other issues causing the pain.
Treatment of Biceps Tendinosis
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a doctor may recommend conservative treatment to begin. Some conservative treatments of biceps tendinosis include:
- Ice packs to reduce swelling and pain
- Physical therapy including Active Release Techniques (ART) and Chiropractic manipulation
- Corticosteroid injections
- Rest, particularly avoiding activities requires overhead motion
In serious cases and when conservative, non-invasive treatments do not produce results, surgery may be required. Biceps tendinosis may be treated by a biceps tendinosis procedure that can relieve pain and restore range of motion. In this procedure, the long head of the biceps tendon is reattached and the tendon is strengthened. In some cases, biceps tendinosis may be treated with regenerative cell therapy, allowing the cells of the tendon to regenerate and heal themselves.
If you believe you are experiencing biceps tendinosis and are interested in learning more about diagnosis and treatment, call us to find a physician.