Biceps tendonitis is an overuse injury which causes pain and inflammation on the inside of the elbow.
Biceps tendonitis symptoms
- Symptoms include thickening and redness over the biceps tendon.
- Pain or discomfort may be felt when bending the arm against resistance.
- The patient may also experience pain or discomfort on the front and inside of the elbow when writing.
- Tenderness to touch the tendon which can be felt in the crease of the elbow.
What is biceps tendonitis?
Biceps tendonitis at the elbow is inflammation of the biceps tendon which inserts into the inside of the elbow. The biceps muscle originates at the shoulder and inserts into the elbow. When it contracts, its main function is to bend (flex) the elbow joint. It is an overuse injury.
What can the athlete do?
- Rest until pain and discomfort have gone. Biceps tendonitis is an overuse injury, so continuing to use it will either make worse or prevent healing.
- Ice or cold therapy will reduce pain and inflammation. Ice should not be applied directly to the skin as it may burn but use a wet tea towel of commercial cold therapy wrap. Cold therapy can be applied every hour for 10 minutes at a time initially. Reduce frequency as symptoms improve.
- Hot & cold – later in the rehabilitation stage, particularly if your injury becomes chronic heat may be more beneficial or alternating hot and cold.
- Elbow support – a neoprene elbow support will provide compression to the joint taking some of the strain off the tendon. Also neoprene material retains the body heat increasing blood flow and aiding the healing process.
What can a sports injury professional do?
- Electrotherapy such as ultrasound or laser treatment. This will help with pain, reduce inflammation and help mobilize the tissues.
- Rehabilitation – a full rehabilitation program including stretching exercises and later once the inflammation has gone a series of progressive strengthening exercises if required.
- Sports massage may help if the biceps muscle is tight. Cross friction massage may be applied to the tendon itself if more conservative treatment is not effective or the biceps tendonitis has become chronic.