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Shoulder Pain – Biceps Tendinopathy?

What is the bicep tendon? Your bicep tendon is a strong, fibrous piece of connective tissue connecting your bicep muscle to the shoulder blade and the radial tuberosity. Because of the attachment of the tendon going through to the superior part of the shoulder blade it can cause pain in the back or even sides of the shoulder as well as the front.

Shoulders are a notoriously unstable and complex joint, meaning obtaining a specific diagnosis can be difficult. Because of this complexity, bicep tendinopathy can occur simultaneously with a rotator cuff tear and impingement.

Causes Most tendinopathies are caused from overuse or increasing training levels faster than our bodies can adapt and recover, and the biceps tendon is no different. Commonly, people with these issues are desk workers, casual gym goers and even gym junkies. Bicep tendinopathies are also seen in people with ‘upper cross posture’ which causes strain on the anterior shoulder.

Signs and symptoms Bicep tendon pain may feel like a burning or deep ache pre-activity or first thing in the morning, making it difficult to lift your arm or bend your elbow. Typically the pain will decrease during activity – only for it to come back a few hours later. These injuries get progressively worse over time and can build up for weeks and months.

-Pain is often in the front of the shoulder joint, but can aggravate pain all over the shoulder joint. -Limited elbow and shoulder flexibility particularly in flexion. -The area may be warm, tender and inflamed.

-A feeling of stiffness in the shoulder -Loss of strength.

What do I do with initial occurrence?

If you suspect a tendinopathy it is important to not completely rest it or immobilise it. Icing the shoulder can help reduce pain and inflammation immediately after activity. Do not put your arm in a sling. Try and keep movement throughout the day, don’t get stuck at the keyboard for hours on end. Book in for assessment and treatment ASAP - the longer the problem hangs around, the longer it takes to recover from it.

How long will it take to heal? Tendon recovery is typically quite difficult to judge as healing time greatly varies based on the level of tissue damage. There are many factors that can influence healing times such as :

-Compliance with exercise. -Level of aggravating activities. -Age. -Occupation.

Recovery isn’t typically a constant positive direction, there may be periods of flare up and discomfort that should get less severe and less frequent over time.Tendons can typically take anywhere from 1 - 4 weeks to heal, but severe cases may take longer.

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