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Anterior Elbow Pain From Biceps Tendinopathy

Anterior Elbow Pain From Biceps Tendinopathy
Anterior Elbow Pain From Biceps Tendinopathy

Anterior Elbow Pain: Common In Middle Aged Men

Biceps tendon injuries causing anterior elbow pain are relatively common however the majority of tendon injuries to the biceps muscle occur in the proximal origin at the shoulder where complete rupture of the tendon can occur. Tendon rupture at the elbow of the distal biceps tendon is significantly less common than the equivalent shoulder tendon tear or rupture.
Exact numbers regarding the frequency of distal biceps tendinopathy causing anterior elbow pain is unknown, however it is far less common than other tendon complaints at the elbow such as tennis elbow or golfers elbow.

  • Distal biceps tendinopathy is reported to be a condition more commonly associated with men in their forth decade. With injury typically occurring in males aged between 30-60 yrs old.
  • Smoking has also be reported to increase the risk of developing distal biceps injury causing anterior elbow pain, increasing the risk up to 7.5 times compared to that of non-smokers.

From my own personal practice over the years, my findings would support the above. I am yet to treat a female with the condition and all patients I have previously treated in our Sydney CBD physio practice for anterior elbow pain from biceps tendinopathy have been aged between 35-50 yrs old.
I would suggests that the condition at least in my experience is becoming more prevalent. In the last 10 years I have seen an increase in the number of patients presenting for treatment on biceps tendinopathy. My rational around this is that over time resistance training has become more common place among the aging athlete. Where as previously weight training at the gym was a young mans game. Certainly what I am seeing in the population attending the clinic for treatment these days is that resistance training as a part of an exercise regime is common place in individuals in their 4th decade and beyond. Not only this but there is also higher percentage of individuals in this age group doing high intensity training using compound movements which may suggests in training they are taking their tissues closer to failure and using non isolated movements that are putting demands on the tissues to control greater motions under strain.  This approach to training in middle age may possibly be putting them at risk of tissue overload and injury to the distal biceps tendon.
Please Note: The above are purely observations from my practice as a physio working out of a CBD physio clinic and not based on research or necessarily reflect the thoughts of the wider physiotherapy community.

Signs and symptoms of Distal Biceps Tendinopathy

Pain is the dominant symptom with distal biceps tendinopathies with patients report experiencing pain in the front of the elbow. The sensation with mild conditions may simply be an ache in the front of the elbow and/or a sensation of stiffness at the elbow. These symptoms are most likely more noticeable following activities which require strong or repetitive contraction of the biceps muscle including: carrying heavy shopping, performing weighted biceps curls or performing chin ups…
In more severe cases, the anterior elbow pain will be sharp. Occasionally swelling around the biceps tendon at the front of the elbow will be present and the individual with report weakness when attempting to lift objects.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Anterior Elbow Pain From Biceps Tendinopathy should consult his or her general practitioner, sports medicine specialist, orthopedic surgeon, physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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