Distal Biceps Tendonitis

Distal biceps tendonitis is recognized by a pain on the front side of your elbow. I’ve been dealing with a bout of it in both arms for over a month now. At least, that’s what my self diagnosis has attributed my discomfort to. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about it in order to treat myself and thought that I should share what I’ve found.

Distal Biceps Tendonitis with pain in the elbow

A good article called “Biceps Tendon Tendonitis of the Elbow” published on the Washington Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine website provided most of the important technical information regarding this condition.

Symptoms of Distal Biceps Tendonitis

The symptoms of distal biceps tendonitis include:

  • Pain or discomfort at the front of the elbow
  • Pain that is associated with elbow flexing and supination (external rotation)
  • Tenderness along the course of the tendon towards its insertion.

I believe that my condition was caused by overuse. I didn’t have a defined workout plan and found myself (almost daily) doing pull-ups and biceps curls without adequate rest days for those muscle groups.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit, especially after all the advice that I try to give on this website, but I let my ego get in the way, and the result was tendonitis. For awhile, I was doing daily maximum rep pull-ups trying to beat my personal best (30), and I think that’s what caused the injury.

Treat Distal Biceps Tendonitis

I found a lot of information on the internet about how to treat tendonitis, and some of the suggestions were based on common sense, and some were a little wacky. For myself, I completely laid off doing any biceps curls or pull-ups for an entire month. It took a lot of willpower to refrain from doing some of my favorite exercises, but trying them even for a second reminded me of why I shouldn’t.

In addition to laying off working the biceps, I also did my best to massage the area that was sore by rubbing them deeply with my fingertips. Another thing that I did was to thoroughly stretch out my forearms.

Forearm stretch cured tendonitis

Stretching helped alleviate the tension in the tendons, and massaging helped force blood flow into the affected areas. Getting blood to flow into the area of discomfort is important in order to deliver nutrients and other things that help repair and rebuild damaged areas of the body.

I don’t think that my case is all that severe compared to some of the cases that I read about while doing my research.

Other things I would try:

  • Icing – Ice daily for 15-20 minutes, but not longer.
  • Compression – Wrap the affected area tightly and flex repeatedly for 1 minute, then remove the wrap and allow the blood to flush in.

This past Monday was the first time that I worked out my biceps in over a month. I did a few sets of curls that were included in my workout plan. I did a lighter weight than I normally would and things felt “relatively” fine. I’ll slowly increase weight over the ensuing weeks as I build confidence that everything is healing appropriately. I’m going to lay off the pull-ups for a few more weeks though.

Keep in mind that I’m no medical professional and my article is not intended to be medical advice. I’m just relating something that happened to me and how I dealt with it. If you have this condition and think that it might be serious, please go and see a doctor.

Have you ever had a nagging overuse injury? What was it and what did you do about it? I’d like to hear about it in the comments section below!

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  • http://biceptendonitis.net Bicep Tendonitis

    How long does it usually take to recover from bicep tendonitis?

    • http://www.johnnyfit.com JohnnyFit

      It really depends on the severity of your tendonitis. From my own experience, it took me 2 months.

  • Broken biceps

    Hey, so I returned to the gym after a 2 year break, started off slow with light weights, streches and cardio during my first week and then on week 2 my trainer insisted I did increased the weight and do curls until failure! the day after I was pretty sore which was expected, 48 hours later my arms are stuck at a 90 degree angle and the pain was bad. 72 hours in, and my biceps are killing me! I cant move then and just having my arms hanging from my shoulders ache….no swelling or bruises….could this be something serious? I’ve done the hot/cold treatement, which helps for a couple of minutes and then its back to the pain. I also feel a dull aches in my fingers, shoulders and upper back. So apart from changing my trainer, anything else I can do??

    • http://www.johnnyfit.com JohnnyFit

      Where you away from the gym for two years due to injuries, or just inactivity?

      It’s not uncommon that your arms would be that sore if you overworked them after a long period of inactivity. Still, your trainer should ease you back into activity if you’ve had a long break.

      If the pain does not start to subside, I would see a doctor.

      DO NOT return to that trainer! A good trainer will set you up for success, not leave you feeling defeated and injured.

  • Broken biceps

    It was just inactivity… so on the fourth day of pain I figured I’d just do a bit of cardio to get the blood circulation going, gotta say I felt considerably better the next day! I still hurt but its now more of a familiar and bearable pain…I have switched trainers but damn i didnt know DOMS could be so bad for so long! Thanks for your post!