Biceps tendinitis often comes with other shoulder problems, such as: 

  • Rotator cuff injuries 
  • Shoulder arthritis 
  • Muscle tears 
  • Shoulder stiffness

The most common symptoms of biceps tendinitis include: 

  • Pain in the front of the shoulder that is made worse when pulling, lifting, or doing repeated overhead activities. 
  • A dull ache that radiates from the upper arm to the elbow 
  • Popping or clicking near the shoulder that often gets worse at night 

When to See a Doctor

The symptoms of biceps tendinitis may be similar to other, more severe conditions. See a doctor if you have: 

  • Pain that doesn’t go away with rest or after using over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen 
  • Pain that gets worse over time 
  • Loss of function or stability 
  • An odd shape or bulge in the muscle or shoulder 
  • A popping or tearing feeling in the shoulder or upper arm 


The most common cause of biceps tendinitis is wear and tear. Muscles that are used a lot over time can become swollen and sore. It can also be caused by a medical condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Diagnosis & Tests, Treatments, & Prevention

Diagnosis & Tests

To diagnose biceps tendinitis, your doctor will ask about your injury and medical history. The doctor will also look at your arm and shoulder and may press on the area to see if they can feel any hardness or swelling.  You may be asked to move your arm to check for any problems with motion and strength .

To confirm or rule out tendinitis, your doctor may order imaging tests, such as: 

  • Ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis of biceps tendon injury 
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to get more detailed images of the biceps tendon or other structures in the shoulder 
  • X-rays to rule out other problems with the bones

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