Bicep Tendonitis: 3 Simple Tests and Next Steps

Try These Tests if You're Experiencing Front Shoulder Pain

By Dr. Erin Boynton, MD, FRCS

bicep tendonitis tests

If you are wondering whether bicep tendonitis may be causing your shoulder pain, here are 3 simple tests you can do to determine whether this condition exists.

Before you do, it is important to remember that these tests must be put into context with all other symptoms.

So check out our other article on bicep tendonitis first, to learn about root causes and symptoms and then come back for the tests!

Test #1: Tendon Palpation

The first and most valuable test is positive if you have tenderness when you palpate the biceps tendon.

biceps tendonitis test - tendon palpation

  • To find the biceps tendon feel the very front corner of your scapula, known as the acromion and move your fingers just below this area.
  • With your elbow bent to 90 degrees and your forearm in neutral, slowly internally and externally rotate your arm.
  • You will feel a little groove, or depression where the LHB lives.

Do you feel pain in this area? It is in this groove that you will experience pain if you have a positive test.

Make sure you compare it to the other side, because in some people this area is normally tender to the touch.

Test #2: Speeds Test

bicep tendonitis test - Speeds Test

  • With your elbow straight and your palm up, position your arm at about 45 degrees of flexion.
  • Apply gentle resistance to your palm as you attempt to increase shoulder flexion.

Pain at the front of the shoulder, which will occasionally be experienced over the biceps muscle belly is considered a positive test.

Test #3: Yergason’s Test

  • With your arm at your side, and your elbow flexed to 90 degrees, and your palm facing the floor, supinate and externally rotate your forearm against resistance.

A positive test occurs when there is pain over the biceps tendon.

If there is clicking, there could be a labral tear, or injury to the transverse humeral ligament (it normally keeps the biceps tendon in its groove).

The biceps tendon can also be painful with traditional impingement tests of the shoulder because it is so closely related to the supraspinatus tendon, but these 3 tests are considered more specific to long head of biceps pathology.

If one of these tests revealed that you may have biceps tendonitis, then head over to this article to learn 4 unique exercises that will address the root causes of bicep tendonitis for pain-free shoulders.

About the Author

Dr. Erin Boynton, MD, FRCS is an orthopedic surgeon who was the team surgeon for the Toronto Blue Jays for 10 years and has worked with other professional teams and athletes from many different sports. She currently serves as the Chief Medical Director of the Rogers Cup WTA Tennis Tournament and is the ITF Canadian Champion in tennis for her age group (we won't say which group that is!).