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Distal Biceps Tendonitis

The distal biceps tendon, which connects the biceps muscle to the elbow bone, can become inflamed and weakened due to overuse. This condition, called tendonitis, can cause pain and limited movement.

Distal Biceps Tendonitis Hero Image 2

The distal biceps tendon, which connects the biceps muscle to the elbow bone, can become inflamed and weakened due to overuse. This condition, called tendonitis, can cause pain and limited movement.

What causes Distal Biceps Tendonitis?

Biceps tendonitis is typically caused by overuse or repetitive activities that place strain on the biceps tendon. This condition is common in sports that require lifting. It usually develops over a prolonged period of use.

Biceps tendonitis is common in these sports:

  • Weightlifting
  • Bodybuilding
  • Gymnastics
  • Bowling
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Golf

Symptoms

Common symptoms you may experience if you have biceps tendonitis include:

  • Pain while throwing, working out, or playing your sport
  • Stiffness and soreness on the front of the bicep near the elbow
  • Tenderness or minor swelling over the biceps tendon
  • Dull pain that gets worse when bending the arm against resistance or twisting the arm, like when using a screwdriver or opening a jar

When to see a doctor

If you experience these symptoms, you should see your doctor, who will take a medical history and conduct a physical exam. He/she may also prescribe an x-ray to rule out other injuries or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test to make sure you don’t have a ruptured tendon or another problem.

Non-operative treatment

Biceps tendonitis is almost always treated non-operatively. Initially, treatment of biceps tendonitis is usually focused on rest and stopping play that aggravates the injury. Ice for 10 minutes every hour for the first couple days after the injury may be recommended. Your doctor may prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID), like aspirin or ibuprofen, for pain relief and to reduce swelling. Often, physical therapy may be prescribed.

You can also try these exercises at home:

Distal Biceps Tendonitis

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is usually not recommended for biceps tendonitis, unless the biceps tendon in the elbow is ruptured.

Recovery

Almost always, biceps tendonitis is treated non-operatively. If the proper course of treatment is adhered to, a full recovery is generally expected in six to eight weeks, depending on the severity of the tendonitis. Athletes should make an effort to prevent further injuries by properly warming up before play and applying ice to the elbow if it is painful after activity.

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