Biceps tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon around the long head of the biceps muscle. Biceps tendinosis is caused by degeneration of the tendon from athletics requiring overhead motion or from the normal aging process. Inflammation of the biceps tendon in the bicipital groove, which is known as primary biceps tendinitis, occurs in 5 percent of patients with biceps tendinitis.
Biceps tendinitis and tendinosis are commonly accompanied by rotator cuff tears or SLAP (superior labrum anterior to posterior) lesions. Patients with biceps tendinitis or tendinosis usually complain of a deep, throbbing ache in the anterior shoulder. Repetitive overhead motion of the arm initiates or exacerbates the symptoms.
The most common isolated clinical finding in biceps tendinitis is bicipital groove point tenderness with the arm in 10 degrees of internal rotation. Local anesthetic injections into the biceps tendon sheath may be therapeutic and diagnostic. Ultrasonography is preferred for visualizing the overall tendon, whereas magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography arthrography is preferred for visualizing the intra-articular tendon and related pathology.
Conservative management of biceps tendinitis consists of rest, ice, oral analgesics, physical therapy, or corticosteroid injections into the biceps tendon sheath.