The most common problems of the upper arm are:

biceps muscle tear

biceps tendinopathy

fracture of humerus

referred pain, torpidness caused by neck problems


Biceps muscle tear

Biceps muscle tear is usually caused by a sudden, forceful contraction of the muscle. It often happens during lifting weight, therefore it is common among weightlifters, athletes and bodybuilders. It can also be produced by gradual trauma of the muscle by repetitive or prolonged activities.

Symptoms of the bicep muscle tear:

  • sudden,strong pain in the shoulder, upper arm or elbow
  • the affected arm is swollen, bigger compared to the other
  • bruising
  • weakness (not able to flex the elbow or turn the palm upwards)

The aim of the therapy is the pain reduction then reset the strength and flexibility of the bicep muscle,the final goal is to have painfree everyday life and return to sport activity.

The therapy of bicep muscle tear:

  • ice therapy
  • ultrasound therapy
  • massage and lymphdrainage
  • stretching and fascia techniques
  • manual therapy and extremity mobilistaion
  • strengthening
  • functional exercises

Biceps tendinopathy

Tendinopathy is an inflammation or degeneration in the tendon. It is usually caused by trauma (lifting heavy weights, falling on an outstreched hand) or it can be a consequence of a long term overuse (in case of repetitive strain on the tendon, bad posture or poor lifting techniques).

Symptoms of biceps tendinopathy:

  • pain in the shoulder or elbow (front side)
  • weakness and increasing pain during lifting and carrying heavy things
  • may occure swelling in the front side of the elbow

The treatment of biceps tendinopathy:

  • swelling, pain and inflammation reduction with ice or heat treatment
  • soft tissue massage and lymphdrainage
  • ultrasound therapy
  • mobilistaion of the upper extremity
  • stretching
  • strengthening
  • functional exercises and practice of everyday use

Fracture of humerus

The humerus bone takes part in creating the shoulder and elbow joints. Many types of humerus fracture are known. The fractures may affect the surrounding joints, soft tissues, nerves, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.

The cause of fractured humerus:

  • sports, especially contact sports (such as football, handball, hockey)
  • physical trauma (fall)
  • consequence of a prime disease like osteoporosis (related to a fall), cancer (metastasis), obesity

Symptoms of humerus fracture:

  • immediate pain which aggravates with movements
  • decreased range of movement
  • swelling
  • if a nerve is affected: loss of muscle control or sensation in the arm and/or hand
  • may occure arm deformity or shortening compared to the other

The humerus fracture is treated either by plaster, sling or brace immobilistaion or surgical fixation. After both treatment it is important to start physiotherapy as soon as possible to regain joint mobility, function, and strength due to start normal activity shortly.

The treatment of fractured humerus:

  • mobilisation
  • manual therapy
  • fascia and soft tissue techniques
  • muscle strengthening and stretching
  • functional exercises
  • sport specific exercises

Reffered pain originating from the back

Pain in the upper arm may originates from other areas of the body such as the neck. The cause may be a nerve got under pressure usually due to a slipped disc (spinal disc herniation) or muscle trigger points which are typical in the neck and upper back region causing radiating pain in the upper extremity. After thourough examination it is the role of the physiotherapist to decide what may be the cause and set up the right treatment accordingly.

The treatment of referred pain:

  • manual therapy, joint mobilisation
  • trigger point therapy
  • massage
  • stretching techniques
  • strengthening exercises for joint stabilisation
  • advices on posture and ergonomics in everyday life (sitting posture, office set-up)

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