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Tendonitis in the Upper Arm

author image Jessica McCahon
Jessica began her writing career in 1995 and is Senior Editor at a London communications agency, where she writes and edits corporate publications covering health, I.T., banking and finance. Jessica has also written for consumer magazines including "Cosmopolitan" and travel, home/lifestyle and bridal titles. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and journalism from the University of Queensland.
Tendonitis in the Upper Arm
Shoulder tendonitis can cause pain down your upper arm. Photo Credit: Staras/iStock/Getty Images

Your tendons are strong fibers that attach your muscles to your bones. Tendonitis occurs when one of your body’s many tendons becomes inflamed. The condition is generally caused by overuse and it usually occurs in a shoulder, elbow, hand, wrist, hip, knee or heel, because these are the most commonly and vigorously used parts of your body. Consult your doctor if you suspect you have tendonitis and before doing new exercises that affect your injured tendon.

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Symptoms and Treatment

Tendinitis is common in the shoulder joint, where the tendon attaches the top of the bicep muscle in your arm to the bones in your shoulder, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Signs the you may have tendonitis in this area are pain in your shoulder, which radiates down your arm and gets worse when you move it. You may also feel or hear a crunching or grinding when you move the shoulder joint. Resting and applying ice to the affected area, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can help to relieve the symptoms and restore the range of motion in your shoulder. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed.


The most common cause of tendonitis in the shoulder, and the resulting pain down your arm, is general wear and tear on the tendons due to repetitive and long-term use, says the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Activities that are most likely to cause this condition are those that require you to frequently raise your arms in the overhead position, placing pressure on your shoulder joint and tendons, such as swimming, tennis or baseball.

Strengthening Exercise

Try a chair exercise offered by Joint Pain Solutions to help manage your tendonitis. Get into position by sitting on the edge of a stable chair with your palms on the edge of the seat and your fingers hooked over the front. Keeping your arms straight, slide your weight forward off the chair so you’re fully supported by your arms. Raise your body slightly using the strength in your shoulders then lower it back down to the starting level. This movement should be very small and should not cause any pain. Aim to do three sets of 10 repetitions. Stop immediately if you feel any pain.

Stretching Exercise

Start by standing up straight and bring your injured arm across your body, just below shoulder height. Keep your arm and fingers straight and your thumb pointing up toward the ceiling. Use your other hand to grip your outstretched arm around the middle of your forearm, and draw your arm closer to your body, increasing the stretch in the back of your shoulder. Hold this position for up to 15 seconds. Relax and repeat the stretch three times. Again, stop immediately if you feel any pain.

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