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Stabbing bicep pain when I lift my arm

For the last 3 months (since April 2005), I've developed a stabbing pain in my left bicep when my arm is in certain positions.  The pain is located deep within my arm in the center of my upper arm and is very intense (i.e., level 8-10) as if a knife was plunged into the center of my bicep.  When the pain happens, I have to use my right arm to pick up the left arm and move it into a neutral position down and in front of me.  Depending on how intense the episode was, it can take anywhere from 5-10 seconds for the pain to subside and disappear completely.

The pain happens when I lift my arm into certain positions (i.e., overhead presses especially when my arm lifts next to my head or behind my head).  I am no longer able to put a bar behind my neck and grip it from behind.  The motion of bringing my arm up and back to grasp the bar is excrutiating.  It doesn't matter if I'm lifting weights or not -- I experience the pain in my everyday life too whenever my arm is raised, bent at the elbow, and moved backward.  Note, I am able to do bicep curls or hammer curls with 5# weights without pain so any bicep-related activity in front of my body is pain free.  Tricep kick backs and tricep "push ups" are also pain free.

I have been active, including aerobics, biking, skiing, lifting weights (5# or less), on and off all my life and 3-4 times a week since late last year and consider myself in excellent shape and am of a normal weight for my height and age (45).

Note, I broke my ankle in June so didn't exercise much at all for 2 months but the arm pain is still there.
127 Responses
Avatar universal
I have EXACTLY the same symptom...
So... I am anxious to learn what it is too.
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I've been racking my brain trying to think of what things have happened to me last Spring with my arm which could be the cause of this pain and I remembered something which might be relevant.  While walking my 95 pound Golden Retriever on a retractable leash, I stopped to talk with a neighbor.  Unbeknownst to me, my dog, who was already at the full length of the leash, saw a squirrel and bolted after it. My left arm was suddenly jerked outward which caused some initial pain which eventually receded by the end of the day.  I'm wondering now if perhaps I could have pulled a deep muscle within my bicep.  If that is the case, I'm wondering how long it will take to be painfree.
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I have new information to share on this topic for anyone who is interested.  The pain just wasn't going away so I visted an orthopedic doctor today and learned that the dog-leash incident is the cause of my problem.  Apparently I have an inflammation in the area where my shoulder joins with my arm.  The shoulder area doesn't hurt but the pain is felt in the bicep instead.  Very interesting.   My doctor gave me a prescription for anti inflammatory medicine (i.e., very, very strong Aleve) which I need to take twice a day for a month to try to heal the shoulder.
inflammatory medicine does not HEAL it takes away the pain and reduces INFLAMMATION.
That's the point. It reduces inflammation in the arm to allow it to heal on its own
Avatar universal
I also  have pain in my bicep & front of shoulder.I think mine is from my 96lb german sheppard who also saw a squirrel on her retractable leash.I keep hoping it will get better,but it has now been over 2 months.How are you today,did the meds help?
Avatar universal
I have recently suffered this strange unsourced pain untill I read comments and symptoms on this site. I would say my "strange unexplained" painfull bicep is probably that I have recently adopted a bad habit of leaning on my elbow with my hand "cupped" on my left cheek for an half hour or more at a time for ages whilst brosing and using mouse with right hand active only, anyone agree with this? Thank you.
I agree my Pain is worsened when I use computer
I agree, I use the computer a lot this way too.
Avatar universal
I have horrible cramping pain in my bicep for the last three months. I feel it coming on and if i put my arm up over my head it will subside but sometimes it takes a while and below my elbow it goes numb and tingling. Been tested for carpel, nothing shows up.What a pain. Anyone know what this is??
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Arlington, VA
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