Treatment of Bicipital Tendonitis with Therapeutic Ultrasound
The biceps muscle is formed from two heads (short and long head) that run along the anterior aspect of the arm bone (humerus). When the muscle is overused through strenuous activities, it can cause an acute episode of tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendons. This occurs most commonly in women in their early 40’s but may affect either gender at any adult age.
Bicipital tendonitis initially causes pain when the arm is internally or externally rotated. The pain starts in the anterior part of the shoulder then moves down to the biceps muscle. This can be confusing at times because of where the pain is felt. Some people might confuse it as a shoulder problem but the bicep tendons insert around the shoulder joint. Someone suffering from bicipital tendonitis may feel pain and discomfort when driving, brushing their teeth, or reaching over head.
Treatment of this condition should be directed at relieving inflammation, eliminating adhesions, and restoring normal range of motion to the shoulder and arm. Treatments include ice, electrical stimulation, and therapeutic ultrasound. Of these three treatment options, therapeutic ultrasound may be the most effective in reducing the inflammation due to its penetrating properties. The ultrasound waves reach the injured area where they increase the circulation and break up adhesions.
Therapeutic ultrasound’s healing properties can be amplified by applying a topic anti-inflammatory at the site, in a process called phonophoresis. Through phonophoresis, the anti-inflammatory is “pushed” by the ultrasound waves in an effort to enhance the absorption of the drug. Once the inflammation has decreased, the patient may begin exercises to regain strength and range of motion.