What is biceps or triceps tendinopathy?

The biceps is a muscle that originates from two places in the shoulder, one of which is above the shoulder socket and the other is to the coracoid. It attaches distally to the radius bone in the forearm and Its main function is in supination (rotation) of the forearm, it also assists with flexion of the elbow. Biceps problems in the elbow predominantly affect the distal tendon of the biceps at the point where it inserts on bone. Patients often complain of pain when there are degenerative changes with tendinopathy and in some cases acute pain and shortening of the muscle when the attachment ruptures.

The triceps muscle originates around the shoulder and attaches distally at the olecranon, which is a part of the ulna bone in the forearm. The triceps is the extensor of the elbow and problems typically occur around the insertion of the tendon into the bone.

What are the symptoms of biceps or triceps tendinopathy?

The main symptoms of tendinopathy are characterised by pain around the affected area, often related to sports and following periods of training. Acute or chronic ruptures of the biceps can lead to a classic deformity with the biceps retracting up the arm and bulging. Triceps ruptures are less common but can present in a similar way.  There is usually a clear history of a pop and associated weakness, pain and bruising.

How is it diagnosed?

It is diagnosed by taking a careful history and performing a detailed examination as the diagnosis is usually clinical. However, ultrasound and MRI can also be used to assess for tears and demonstrate the amount of retraction of the muscle. These scans are also useful to demonstrate Tendinopathy and to exclude associated injuries.

How is it treated?

Treatment begins with symptomatic management using pain killers and a sling. The functional demands of the patient, including their chosen sports and occupation will help to guide treatment options.

In cases of chronic tendinopathy activity modification and physiotherapy, working on eccentric exercises can be successful.

Ultrasound-guided injections can be helpful both diagnostically and therapeutically but can potentially increase the risk of rupture.

Operative treatment will be guided by severity, patient preferences and symptoms. Open repair of acute triceps or biceps ruptures should be performed semi-urgently to prevent significant retraction and the need for grafting or the inability to repair

These operations can lead to restoration of function and an earlier return to sports and normal daily activities.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or is experiencing pain in their shoulder or difficulty with moving the shoulder, arm or elbow and would like a consultant-led review, please contact us. Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of ACJ injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of should & elbow -related injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow conditions click the button below to find out more


If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow treatments click the button below to find out more

our specialist shoulder and elbow consultants

Shoulder and Elbow care at Grosvenor Orthopaedics is led by our consultant surgeons Mr W James White and Mr David Butt, both graduates of London medical colleges. They bring extensive experience to Grosvenor Orthopaedics having worked across Guys NHS Trust and the world renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

Our team have broad experience in the successful treatment of a range of shoulder and elbow problems, addressing both young and sports related injuries as well as those relating to trauma, disease process and genetics.

Patients who choose Grosvenor Orthopaedic Partners for their treatment will receive some of the best care available in the UK. Our team are leading consultants across London’s shoulder and elbow clinics and offer specialist care to our private patients through King Edward’s Hospital, HCA Lister and other major private hospitals in central London.

Our team are well placed to manage and treat a diverse range of shoulder and elbow problems utilising cutting edge diagnostic technology and treatment approaches, both surgical and conservative. Below is an overview of some of the conditions we treat but for a more thorough understanding please contact our team here


Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MBBS, BSc(Hons)
James is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, King Edward VII’s, The Lister Hospital Chelsea and HCA Chiswick Outpatient Clinic. His practice encompasses all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery including arthroscopy, arthroplasty and trauma. He has a reputation as a thorough clinician, effective communicator and skilled surgeon. Through joint decision-making with the patient and utilising non-operative techniques where possible, he achieves the best possible outcomes for patients. When surgery is required, James has excellent outcomes based on his precise and prepared approach to operating.


Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MSc, MBBS, BSc(Hons)
David is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at the world-renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore, King Edward VII’s Hospital and One Hatfield. His practice involves all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery, from minor injuries to complex reconstructive procedures. He strongly believes in shared decision making and a patient-centred approach to treatment. He is a meticulous surgeon using up to date and evidence-based techniques to treat every patient’s individual needs.

What some of our patients say

Mrs JS

Thank you to the whole team for getting me back on my feet again