Proximal biceps tendonitis is a problem for many patients. The injury typically presents as pain in the front part of the shoulder with pain increasing in severity when the arm is lifted or overhead sports and activities are performed.

Effective treatment of proximal biceps tendonitis involves expertise of an Orthopedic or Sports Medicine Specialist that can use multiple treatment modalities to decrease inflammation and pain.

Related Anatomy

The bicep is a long muscle that runs down the upper arm (humerus) between the shoulder and elbow. The bicep is important because it helps flex and supinate the forearm. At its proximal end, there are two attachments of the biceps, the long head which attaches to the top of the shoulder socket and the short head which attaches to the coracoid process medial to the shoulder joint.  The long head of the biceps is typically the tendon which can become inflamed and frayed. When the tendon becomes irritated and inflamed, proximal biceps tendonitis can occur.

Causes of Proximal Biceps Tendonitis

Proximal biceps tendonitis may be caused by the following:

  • Wear and tear of the tendon due to aging processes
  • Repetitive overhead shoulder movements
  • Repetitive overhead lifting of heavy objects
  • Overuse injuries or heavy lifting exercises

Older individuals, manual laborers, overhead throwing athletes and weightlifters are the individuals who most commonly experience proximal biceps tendonitis. In many cases, proximal biceps tendonitis will occur in conjunction with a shoulder injury.


Symptoms of Proximal Biceps Tendonitis

Patients with biceps tendonitis typically experience an achy and tender pain in the front part of their shoulder. Pain increases in severity when the tendon is palpated and/or the arm is raised overhead. To effectively treat symptoms, an orthopedic specialist can prescribe a variety of treatment options.


Treatment Options for Proximal Biceps Tendonitis

The overwhelming majority of cases of this condition are effectively treated using nonsurgical treatment options. The most important of which is rest. Patients are advised to limit shoulder movement for a period of 2-3-weeks. This gives inflammation a chance to calm down. Other treatment options that can be used include the following:

  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Oral and topical medications that decrease inflammation. NSAIDs are available in over-the-counter and prescription forms.
  2. Physical therapy. Various stretching and strengthening exercises can be used to improve shoulder range of motion and strength. This decreases pain and helps take pressure off the tendon.
  3. In some cases, an orthopedic specialist may inject anti-inflammatory medications into the area around the tendon. This provides patients with fast acting pain relief.


Seeking Treatment for Proximal Biceps Tendonitis

Patients who are experiencing the symptoms of proximal biceps tendonitis are encouraged to contact one of our 5 offices in Long Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx to make an appointment with one of our awarded orthopedic specialists. An accurate diagnosis will be made and an effective treatment plan will be prescribed to help decrease symptoms in as short a period of time as possible.

The physicians at Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine focus on both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all bone and joint injuries and are one of the most innovative orthopedic practices in the area.  

Fortunately, many patients can be treated non-surgically with a combination of conservative modalities coordinated by the Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Team. If surgery is necessary, the practice uses a multidisciplinary approach to create a treatment plan that focuses on the patient’s lifestyle and activities and helps them get back to those activities quickly and effectively.  Expect a full recovery when in the hands of our trusted physicians. Give us a call today!