Your UCHealth specialist will take your complete medical history and injury history, and will perform a physical examination. The specialist will perform tests on your injured biceps to check function, and will also examine your shoulder for range of motion, strength and signs of instability. He/she may also order diagnostic imaging tests such as:
- X-rays. Although an X-ray only visualizes bones, it may show other problems in your shoulder joint.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound. Can show soft tissues like the biceps tendon in greater detail.
Your orthopedic and sports medicine specialist will develop a personalized treatment plan based on the severity of your tendonitis, symptoms you’re experiencing, and your desired activity level. We typically treat biceps tendonitis with nonsurgical treatments, such as:
- Ice. Use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, to keep swelling down.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen reduce pain and swelling.
- Rest. Avoid activities that cause pain.
- Corticosteroid injections. Can be very effective at relieving pain and reducing inflammation medicines. Your provider injects this steroid directly into your tendon.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist will teach you stretching and strengthening exercises to help restore range of motion and strengthen your biceps and shoulder structure.
- Prevention. Because most cases of tendonitis are caused by overuse, you will need to avoid or alter the activities that caused your injury.
If these treatment options aren’t working well enough, your provider may recommend surgery. Surgery may be the best option if you also have a related shoulder condition that requires repair. Our orthopedic surgeons are skilled at any of the latest orthopedic procedures, including:
- Biceps tenodesis. Your surgeon removes the damaged section of the biceps, and the remaining tendon is reattached to the upper arm bone (humerus).
- Tenotomy. In severe cases, your surgeon releases the damaged biceps tendon from its attachment.