Biceps Pain

Biceps pain is usually the result of overuse of the muscles that are located between the shoulders and the elbow.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Aug 1, 2018
Sharp shooting pain from the biceps! This is a common complaint among people performing weightlifting exercises on a regular basis. Even those playing games like tennis and golf frequently are likely to suffer from biceps pain at some point of time.
Sometimes the biceps pain can travel all the way down to the elbow, making it difficult to bend the elbow. Excessive stress on the biceps muscles often manifests in the form of shoulder pain.
Shoulder Anatomy
The shoulder is a joint, where the three bones meet at one point. These bones are commonly referred to as upper arm bone, the collarbone and the shoulder blade. The biceps muscle are found in the frontal area of the upper arm.
Now the biceps muscle is attached to shoulder bones with the help of two tendons (fibrous tissues). One tendon connects the biceps muscle with the shoulder bone, while the other tendon ensures that the muscle is attached to the elbow.
Repetitive motion of the biceps that often occurs while performing a set of exercises, is the most common reason behind this unusual pain in the biceps.
Man doing biceps
Also, trying to lift heavy objects can put undue pressure on the biceps, thus damaging the muscles. The damage may occur in the form of partial or complete tear of the muscles. If it is a minor strain, taking rest for 1-2 days can help the person to return to his normal activities.
No wonder, professional swimmers often complain about painful biceps. As we all know, swimming requires repeated motion of arm muscles. The biceps and the triceps are the muscle groups on which excessive strain is put while swimming.
Although these major muscle groups are capable enough to handle stress, swimming for prolonged periods of time can make the muscles extremely tired, leaving them inflamed.

Following are the conditions that may develop either by overuse of the biceps or repetitive actions done by these exercises.
Pulled Biceps Muscle
A pulled biceps is a condition resulting from over strain. Any strenuous exercise, involving the biceps performed for long duration of time, can lead to a torn biceps, also referred to as pulled biceps muscle. In this condition, the fibers and the tissues that form biceps muscles are torn. The extent of muscle tearing will depend on how severe is the injury.
Studies show that smokers are also susceptible to muscle pain. They are at greater risk of joint and muscle pain than their counterparts (non-smokers). This is because, smoking is primary responsible for reducing blood circulation to the musculoskeletal tissues such as the muscles and the tendons.
Restricted blood flow means the amount of nutrients reaching these tissues also decreases. This can be detrimental to these tissues and is likely to cause pain.
With increasing age, degeneration of muscles and tissues is common. The tissues become less flexible over time and so one has to cope with restricted movement. The everyday routine may actually be strenuous to the tissues.
For instance, carrying grocery bags was something that you did not mind. However, as you get older, holding grocery bags even for a short period of time may soon become a cause of discomfort due to muscle pain.
Biceps Tendonitis
Bicep tendonitis is nothing but inflammation of the tendons that join the biceps muscle to the bones. As aforementioned, repetitive actions of the bicep muscles are primarily responsible for causing biceps tendonitis.
Tearing of tendon (when lifting heavy objects or a trauma) that connects the biceps muscle to the elbow can cause biceps pain near elbow. This condition interferes with the normal movement of the elbow and the person may experience swelling near the elbow.
Abuse of medications such as corticosteroids can also lead to biceps pain. Although, corticosteroids are formulated to relieve pain, exactly the opposite effect is likely to occur if used excessively.
Symptoms will vary from person to person depending upon the amount of damage inflicted on the muscles. In case of severe injury, the patient may find it difficult to tolerate touching the shoulder. On the other hand, if the underlying cause is not severe, the patient is likely to experience pain only when the arm is kept in a particular position.
For instance, raising the arm over the head may trigger sharp biceps pain, which is otherwise absent in some patients. Biceps area showing signs of swelling and redness is indicating trauma or an overuse injury. In most cases, the pain lingers in frontal part of the shoulder and aggravates during movement.
Giving rest to the injured biceps as much as possible, should be the first priority to ease the biceps pain. Do not attempt to perform any activities that put strain on the injured biceps. Activities like lifting weights are out of question, as these exercises can aggravate the pre-existing pain.
Ice Therapy
Application of ice packs is a well-known therapy to reduce pain and swelling of the injured biceps. The method of applying ice packs for 10-15 minutes is regarded as a pain reliever remedy. Pain relief is something that patients are looking for, which can be easily achieved with ice therapy. Use of ice packs will also help to improve the mobility of biceps.
Along with ice therapy, medicines to relieve pain are recommended in case of severe pain. Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are quite useful to reduce pain. NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are some medicines that can restore normal functioning of the biceps. Corticosteroid injections may also be administered to manage the pain.
In case the injury causes complete tear of the tendons or the biceps muscle, then surgical procedure is used to correct the problem. This form of treatment is used when non surgical options fail to provide relief.
Procedure involves rejoining the torn biceps tendon or the muscle to the shoulder bone. In some cases, metal implants are used to ensure reattachment of the biceps tendon to the bone.
Biceps tendonitis exercises such as biceps curl, rotator cable lift and certain stretching exercises can also contribute to restore flexibility to the muscles. On the whole, if biceps pain does not subside by taking rest or medications, appointment with a doctor for surgical procedure is necessary.