Bicipital Tendinitis

By | May 14, 2004

Okay, so maybe it’s not as interesting or as flamboyant as a torn rotator cuff, but it appears that the popping sounds (accompanied at different times by no pain, slight pain, or severe pain) in my shoulder are due to bicipital tendinitis (which is also, but less commonly, spelled tendonitis), or possibly even bursitis.

If the problem is bicipital tendinitis, the recovery period is estimated at 6-8 weeks. My injury occurred about six weeks ago, but I waited a week and a half before seeing a doctor and I didn’t see a physical therapist until two weeks after the injury. It’s definitely getting much better, but I now wish I had started the physical therapy a lot sooner. My shoulder feels much better than it did two weeks ago, but my range of motion is still limited and the tendon still pops on occasion.

Based on one article I read, the popping of the tendon could be the result of the tendon slipping out of the bicipital groove. This groove is the spot where the long head of the biceps tendon passes between the two tubercles at the top of the humerus. When I move my right arm too far to the left or above my head (especially when accompanied by bending my elbow or gripping with my hand) I can feel some tension develop in the front part of my shoulder. When I return my arm to its normal position, I can feel and hear a pop as the tendon apparently drops back into the bicipital groove. I’m not a doctor, of course, but the tendon slipping out of the groove sounds like a believable explanation. It certainly matches up well with what I’m feeling in my shoulder.

Of course, it’s possible that the problem is a combination of bursitis and bicipital tendinitis. If the bursa sac that sits between the tendon and the bone is swollen, I can definitely understand how the tendon might create a popping sensation as it glides over the swollen bursa.

2 thoughts on “Bicipital Tendinitis

  1. gauri

    physiotherapy treatment
    1. range of motion ex. resissted ex.
    3. strenthening of int. rotators
    4.avoid horizontal abduction
    5. phonophorosis
    6.iontophorosis with neg.ion
    7.cross friction massage

  2. Robert

    I’m not sure I can do the *phorosis stuff, but I can work on the others.

    I found a photo of a horizontal abduction exercise on the US Men’s Rugby team website – It’s interesting that my physical therapist had me doing this exercise right from the start, admittedly with no weights and moving my arm through only about a 12″ range of motion.

    General range of motion exercises have been very important. I couldn’t believe how much flexibility I lost during the six months or so that it took for me to mostly recover. My shoulder still pops occasionally and it is still too weak and inflexible, but I can do most day to day things without an issue. Tennis is not an option, though. Maybe next spring or summer.


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