Biceps Tenosynovitis

Biceps Tenosynovitis

Biceps Tenosynovitis

A common injury seen in humans and canines are muscle strains or tears. The canine shoulder has 25 muscles to help with movement. Because of the density of muscles and the way our canine athletes compete, Biceps Tenosynovitis (Biceps Tendonitis) has become a common problem especially in agility dogs.

The biceps tendon attaches on the shoulder blade, goes through the shoulder joint, widens into the belly of the muscle and attaches onto the lower leg at the radius and ulna bones.

Biceps tenosynovitis is inflammation of the biceps brachii muscle tendon. This inflammation can be caused by repeated strain injury, quick turns, trauma and even chronic osteochondritis dissecans of the shoulder joint. Tendons have poor blood supply and that makes them even more susceptible to injury.

Muscle contraction strength is greatly affected by even minor strain injury and since the blood supply is so poor, healing of the lesion can be problematic. Scar tissue in the muscle predisposes it to contracture and reinjury.

Biceps tenosynovitis is seen more commonly in medium to large breed dogs that are mature. There can be intermittent lameness that may become worse with exercise. Loss of muscle on the affected leg can be seen and it may be painful upon palpation of the tendon.

Radiographs are not very specific for this problem and MRI or ultrasound may be used to identify the condition. Arthroscopy can be used as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool.

If surgery is recommended then the options include a tenodesis (reattaching the tendon at a new location) or a tendon release by arthroscopy. Medical management of biceps tenosynovitis includes pain management, exercise restriction, and rehabilitation therapy.

Rehabilitation is the main ingredient in recovery whether you choose medical or surgical management of the problem. Treatments will include pain management with NSAIDs, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, passive range of motion movements, and possibly acupuncture. Exercises will be prescribed for your pet and slowly increased over time.

Strengthening exercises will be incorporated later in the rehabilitation program but the important component is controlled activity. Full recovery may take 4 to 6 months so try not to be too impatient and push your canine athlete too quickly; slow and steady will win the race.

Whether you wish to pursue medical or surgical options, ARCC – Animal Rehab & Conditioning Center is here to help you with your canine athlete during his recovery.

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