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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

Why Does My Bicep Hurt?

Two tendons in the bicep allow you to move your arms through their day-to-day motions. These tendons also attach the bicep muscle to the bones in the elbow and shoulder. When injured, these tendons can no longer function normally - causing pain and making it difficult to move your arms.

How Can You Injure Your Bicep?

The proximal bicep tendon is near the shoulder, while the distal bicep tendon is near the elbow. The two primary conditions and injuries that impact both these tendons are:

  1. Biceps Tendinitis: The tendon becomes inflamed and, in extreme cases, can develop microtears.

  2. Biceps Tendon Tear: A total or partial bicep tendon tear.

Bicep tendinitis commonly occurs as a result of an overuse injury. The symptoms of biceps tendinitis include:

  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling in the elbow

  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling in the shoulder

  • Catching or clicking sensation

  • Arm weakness

  • Difficulty moving the arm

When left untreated, biceps tendinitis can lead to a total or partial bicep tendon tear. However, this injury can also be caused by a twisting or direct impact injury. Symptoms of a torn bicep tendon are:

  • Upper arm or forearm bruising

  • Weakness in the elbow or shoulder

  • Pain in the elbow or shoulder

  • Trouble rotating your arm

  • Bicep deformity

Since the symptoms of these conditions are so similar to each other, your bicep pain needs to be properly diagnosed.

Dr. Joseph and his team at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery specialize in injuries to the upper extremities. Using a combination of medical history, physical exams, and imaging tests, Dr. Joseph will accurately diagnose the condition behind your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Do I Need Surgery for Bicep Pain?

Whether you need surgery for your bicep pain depends on the severity of the injury.

In the majority of cases, Dr. Joseph can treat biceps tendinitis conservatively. Nonsurgical treatment he typically recommends for biceps tendinitis are:

  • Rest

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

  • Ice

  • Physical therapy

  • Steroid injections (such as cortisone)

Unfortunately, a torn biceps tendon cannot heal on its own. However, surgery for a torn biceps tendon is common, predictable, and safe. With physical therapy, arm function and strength will usually return to normal. Re-tearing a torn biceps tendon after surgical repair is very rare.

Treating Bicep Pain in Eagle and Summit County

If you're suffering from bicep pain, contact Team Joseph today! As the leading upper extremity expert in Vail Valley and Summit County, Colorado, Dr. Joseph will accurately diagnose your bicep pain and recommend a treatment plan that’s right for your lifestyle.

Request a consultation today by calling (970) 476-7220 or by completing our appointment request form. Make your appointment today, and let’s get you back to doing the activities you love!

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