Long head of the biceps pathology as a cause of anterior shoulder pain after shoulder arthroplasty

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. Jul-Aug 2006;15(4):415-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2005.09.004.


The use of shoulder arthroplasty has been increasing over the last decade, with nearly 20,000 shoulder arthroplasties being performed each year. Although many patients have excellent results, there exists a subset of patients in whom anterior catching shoulder pain develops after arthroplasty. The purpose of this study was to examine this group of patients and explore treatment options and outcomes for this condition. We undertook a review of 8 shoulders in 7 patients who were treated for anterior shoulder pain radiating into the biceps muscle after shoulder arthroplasty. Three patients had a hemiarthroplasty for fracture, and five had a total shoulder arthroplasty. All patients had anterior shoulder pain with physical examination findings consistent with biceps tendon pathology. Definitive diagnosis and treatment consisted of either arthroscopy, in 7 of 8 shoulders, or an open procedure, in 1 of 8 shoulders. The range of motion improved in all shoulders. The hemiarthroplasty group showed an increase in flexion of 36 degrees (range, 68 degrees -104 degrees ), external rotation of 23 degrees (range, 11 degrees -34 degrees ), and internal rotation to L4. The total shoulder group demonstrated an increase in flexion of 50 degrees (range, 66 degrees -166 degrees ), external rotation of 27 degrees (range, 22 degrees -39 degrees ), and internal rotation to L3. The Hospital for Special Surgery score improved in all shoulders, with all patients being satisfied with their final outcome. Pain scores improved from a mean of 6.9 (range, 4-9) preoperatively to 1.4 (range, 0.5-2) postoperatively on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the most pain. The role of the biceps tendon in the pathology of anterior shoulder pain after shoulder arthroplasty appears to be consistent with fibrosis and inflammation. Initial results, achieved with arthroscopic debridement or tenodesis, were encouraging.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery*
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology*
  • Tendinopathy / complications*