Tendinitis in the upper arm


Tendonitis on the upper arm is one inflammation (Inflammation) of the tendons that connect the muscles of the upper arm to the bones. It must be between one Tendinitis (Tendonitis) and one Tendinitis (Tendovaginitis) can be distinguished. The tendinitis on the upper arm can be due to both degenerative (Tissue-destroying) diseases and as a result of overloading the tendons and, in rare cases, as a result of bacterial infection. Depending on the cause and stage of the disease, it can take a few weeks or months for complete healing.


There are many causes of tendinitis. Are common Overloads the affected tendons are the cause of the inflammation. Athletes who put a lot of strain on the muscles of the upper arm are therefore particularly at risk of developing tendinitis of the upper arm.
Here you will find an overview of the upper arm muscles
Also injuries to the tendons, muscles or bones due to Accidents can cause tendinitis. Likewise, the occurrence of tendinitis is due to rheumatic diseases or degenerative diseases of the muscular system are possible. Calcification of individual tendons can lead to a local inflammatory reaction of the tendons in the upper arm.


The main symptoms of tendinitis are severe Pain in the affected area. Especially when the muscles of the upper arm are strained, pain typically occurs, which is described as stitches. The tendon also usually has a strong one Tenderness on.
Please also read our article on this Upper Arm Pain - What Do I Have?

In addition to the pain as the main symptom of the disease are characteristic Signs of inflammation in the area of ​​the affected upper arm. This typically includes a Redness, Swelling, overheating, pain as well as a more or less strong one Loss of function the affected tendon. In the case of infections, an increased body temperature can also be part of the symptom complex.

The localization of the symptoms is important for the diagnosis. Depending on which tendon is affected, the upper arm can show symptoms in different places. The tendons that run from the upper arm under the armpit are often affected. If the pain occurs when moving the upper arm and shoulder in the armpit area and is possibly accompanied by other signs of inflammation, tendinitis should be considered as a possible cause.

Read our articles on this Tendonitis in the shoulder and tendinitis in the arm


The anamnesis (doctor-patient conversation) as well as the physical examination are in the foreground of the diagnosis of tendinitis. The attending physician can usually make a suspected diagnosis of tendinitis based on the description of the symptoms.
In addition to the functional test of the tendon, further diagnostic measures may be necessary in individual cases to confirm the diagnosis. In particular, imaging examinations such as ultrasound and an MRI scan can often confirm the diagnosis of tendinitis.

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The therapy of tendinitis is initially based on the cause, which is responsible for the disease. In many cases, treating the underlying condition can successfully treat the inflammation. Depending on the cause, conservative therapy methods or, in rare cases, surgical measures are at the fore of therapy. If no disease is diagnosed that can be blamed for the occurrence of tendinitis, then it is one Overload the tendon is likely the cause.
Basically is Protection the cornerstone of treating tendinitis in the upper arm. This can be achieved either with special splints or tape bandages and in rare cases with a plaster cast. It can also be useful to take anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medication.
These drugs are mostly so-called Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). You can find an overview of the drugs here: NSAIDs

A physical therapy can often shorten the duration of tendinitis. If these conservative measures are carried out consistently, complete healing of the tendinitis can usually be achieved.

Taping for tendinitis in the upper arm

Applying a tape dressing can help treat tendinitis of the upper arm. Since immobilization of the affected tendon is the main focus of inflammation therapy, the bandage can help to protect the tendon. The tape bandage distributes the stress on the affected muscle to the skin and surrounding muscles. However, it should be noted that the bandage only helps if the tendon is also actively protected. Physical activity that involves stressing the affected tendon should be avoided despite the application of a tape bandage so as not to jeopardize the success of the therapy.

Please also read our article on this Kinesio tape

Homeopathy for tendinitis in the upper arm

Although no proof of efficacy has yet been provided, the use of homeopathic medication is also very popular for tendinitis of the upper arm. Depending on the literature, different remedies are recommended for tendinitis. Arnica in particular is a popular means of treating inflammation. The most important thing is to immobilize the affected tendon. Whether the use of homeopathic remedies is recommended in individual cases or whether conventional medical methods are necessary to restore the function of the upper arm should first be clarified by a doctor.


The duration of therapy for tendinitis can take different amounts of time, depending on the disease causing it. Some other factors can also affect how long the inflammation lasts. The Degree of inflammation as well as a consistent implementation of therapeutic measures significantly influence the duration of the illness until healing.
Tendonitis is generally a very protracted condition that can take a few weeks to months to heal completely. Mild courses usually last about 2 weeks, while other inflammations sometimes last up to 3 months until symptom-free.
If after a few months there is still no improvement in the symptoms, it is advisable to check again whether a systemic Disease (a disease of the whole organism) could be responsible for the inflammation.
In order not to negatively influence the duration of the inflammation, the tendon should be spared consistently and any physical strain on the affected upper arm should be avoided for the duration of the treatment. Regular visits to the doctor can help to monitor the course of therapy and, if necessary, to make changes to the therapy that shorten the duration of the disease overall.

Tendinitis in the shoulder

If tendinitis occurs on the upper arm, the pain usually occurs in the shoulder or armpit area. The tendons and muscles of the upper arm as well as the so-called run in this area Rotator cuff. Tendons, which are included in this muscle group, are subject to particularly high loads and are therefore relatively often affected by inflammation. The anatomical position of the tendons in this area also favors the development of inflammation. The tendons on the shoulder run close to the bone and can therefore be easily irritated and cause an inflammatory reaction.
Another possibility for tendinitis to develop in the shoulder area is the calcification of a tendon. Even then, pain typically occurs in the shoulder area and tendinitis can occur.

Read our article about tendinitis in the shoulder

Tendonitis of the biceps tendon

The human biceps consists of two muscle tummies that are connected to the shoulder joint by a long and a short tendon. A common tendon connects the two bellies on the forearm bone. All three tendons can potentially be affected in tendinitis. However, in most cases, if the biceps tendon becomes inflamed, the long tendon is affected. Only in rare cases are the other two tendons affected. The long biceps tendon runs through a small channel on the humerus through the capsule of the shoulder joint. If there are changes in this area, for example shoulder joint osteoarthritis, accidents, shoulder joint inflammation or a tightness under the roof of the shoulder in the so-called impingement syndrome, the biceps tendon can also be affected. The change causes the tendon to rub against the bone. Through long-term irritation, this ultimately leads to inflammation in the biceps tendon.
Patients with biceps tendonitis often complain of decreased strength and pain when lifting their arms. In addition, the inflammation can lead to redness, swelling and restricted mobility.

For details, see Biceps tendonitis.

Pain associated with biceps tendonitis

Biceps tendonitis pain occurs mainly when the arm is raised. Pain can exist both when the arm is stretched forwards and when it is stretched backwards. In addition, there may be pain when the arm flexes. Patients often complain of a dull throbbing in the area of ​​the upper arm and shoulder. A very sudden pain immediately after an accident speaks more against inflammation and more in favor of a biceps tendon tear.

What can tendinitis on both upper arms indicate?

Biceps tendon inflammation often occurs in patients who already have a previously damaged shoulder. It often occurs with shoulder osteoarthritis or impingement syndrome. It can also occur in rheumatoid arthritis. If biceps tendonitis occurs without a previous accident, and even on both sides, the patient should be examined for this disease. In these cases, the presence of an underlying disease that promotes the occurrence of an inflammation of the vision is likely.

For more information, see Rheumatoid arthritis.