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My shoulder hurts...it’s my...biceps???

 

Patients are often confused when I inform them that the biceps (long head of the biceps) is to blame for their shoulder pain. Most think of their biceps as the “Popeye” muscle at the mid portion of the upper arm.

To understand why the biceps can play a role in shoulder pain, we need to understand a little anatomy. The long head of the biceps takes a right-hand turn as it dives into the shoulder joint, attaching at the labrum, which is a cartilage rim around the cup, or the glenoid, of the ball and cup shoulder joint.

The reason the long head is susceptible to injury is because it is vulnerable in its journey. There are two parts to the biceps tendon - the long and the short head. The short head does not tear often and isn’t a part of the actual shoulder joint. Because of the short head, most sedentary people can still use their biceps even if the long head is completely torn - though cosmetically there may be an asymmetry in the appearance of the biceps. It...

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