While shoulder pain has many possible causes, a common reason for it in people under the age of 50 is biceps tendinitis. This happens when the long head of the biceps tendon, which connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder blade, becomes inflamed. The swelling can be quite painful.
There are actually two biceps tendons, a long head and a short head. The short head tendon inserts outside the shoulder joint and rarely causes pain, while the long head tendon is covered with tissue that's rich in nerve endings and easily inflamed. The biceps muscle's main job is to help supinate the forearm, which is the motion of rotating your inner forearm so that it faces up.
Our Approach to Biceps Tendinitis
UCSF is committed to helping patients with biceps tendinitis recover shoulder function and return to their favorite activities. Using methods shown to work and individualizing the plan for each patient, our team includes orthopedic surgeons, primary care sports medicine doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers.
Treatment for biceps tendinitis depends on the injury's cause and severity. We usually begin with a combination of rest, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. Some patients benefit from a steroid injection to decrease inflammation. These techniques are usually effective, so surgery is rarely needed.
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UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.