Brachialis Tendonitis: Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:04 Shoulder, Arm & Elbow Pain
  • 0:23 Brachialis Tendonitis
  • 0:48 Causes of Brachialis…
  • 1:21 Symptoms of Brachialis…
  • 2:09 Treatment of…
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Alexandra Unfried

Alexandra earned her master's degree in nursing education and is currently a hospital supervisor/administrator.

Brachialis tendonitis has several different names, including climber's elbow, brachial plexitis, brachial neuropathy, and acute brachial radiculitis. This lesson discusses the symptoms and treatment of brachial tendonitis.

Shoulder, Arm, and Elbow Pain

Eric enjoys rock climbing as a hobby. He's been climbing for about a year and has started to notice a sharp pain in his right shoulder that travels down his arm. There's also a dull ache at his right elbow with some swelling. It looks like Eric has injured his brachialis tendon.

Brachialis Tendonitis

The brachialis is a muscle in the arm that's located under the biceps brachii. It helps to flex the forearm at the elbow joint. A tendon is a set of fibrous tissue that attaches the muscle to the bone. Tendonitis is an inflammation or swelling of a tendon. Therefore, brachialis tendonitis is the swelling of the brachialis tendon, which causes pain to the affected arm.

Causes of Brachialis Tendonitis

It's often difficult to pinpoint the cause of brachialis tendonitis. It can be caused by sports, surgery, trauma, vaccinations, and even sickness. Sports that are more likely to cause brachialis tendonitis are contact sports and those that require lifting over the head. Some examples are weightlifting, gymnastics, rock climbing, bodybuilding, bowling, and sports like football, where a ball is thrown. Eric's rock climbing and constant strain on using his arms to pull himself up have put a strain on his brachial tendons.

Symptoms of Brachialis Tendonitis

General symptoms of brachialis tendonitis include pain, weakness, and limited movement in the affected shoulder and upper arm. The pain can be sudden or gradual, and will usually continue until the activity causing the pain has stopped.

More specific symptoms are:

  • Piercing, stabbing pain that radiates
  • Inflammation in or around the elbow
  • Inability to straighten or bend the arm
  • Severe pain when straightening the elbow all the way
  • Increased pain with activity
  • A popping sound in the tendon or elbow during movement

Eric's main symptoms are a sharp pain in his right shoulder that radiates down his arm and a dull ache at his elbow with some swelling. He's also started to notice that his right arm is weaker than his left and it's difficult for him to bend and straighten it.

Treatment of Brachialis Tendonitis

Treatment for brachialis tendonitis can be minimal or elaborate depending on how bad the injury is. The first lines of defense are:

  • Rest
  • Anti-inflammatory medication, which reduces pain and swelling
  • Ice for acute pain to reduce swelling and pain, especially directly after movement
  • Tape or brace, which limits movement of the elbow to promote rest and support

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