Biceps Tendon Tear

What is a biceps tendon tear, and how is it treated?

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The bicep is a large muscle on the front of the upper arm, between the elbow and the shoulder. Tendons attach the bicep to the bones in the arm and help it function. A bicep tear refers to damage to one of these tendons, which can cause pain and affect arm mobility.

Our board-certified orthopedic and sports medicine specialists at OrthoNeuro have helped thousands of patients with biceps tendon injuries return to an active and healthy lifestyle using various treatment options. Contact one of our many convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus, Ohio today to learn more about how we can help!

What Is a Bicep Tendon Tear?

The biceps tendons connect the biceps muscle to the bones in the elbow and the shoulder. The biceps muscle helps control the motion at both the shoulder and the elbow. It is essential to the function of the forearm when lifting at the elbow and assists the shoulder musculature in moving your arm forward, sideways, and upward.

There are varying degrees of injury that can occur to the biceps tendon at either the attachment to the shoulder or the attachment to the elbow.

They include the following:

  • Biceps tendon tear—These injuries occur when there are one or more small tears in the tendon, but the tendon is still attached to the shoulder and/or elbow.
  • Biceps tendon rupture—This injury is often more serious and occurs when the biceps tendon is completely torn from its attachment to the bones of the shoulder or elbow.

In instances where the biceps tendon is ruptured, an audible “pop” can be heard at the moment of injury.

How Biceps Tears Occur

There are a few ways that your biceps tendon may tear. The following list mentions some of the possible causes of a biceps tendon tear:

  • Serious or constant overuse
  • Moving or twisting your elbow or shoulder in an awkward way
  • Falling on an outstretched arm
  • Heavy lifting

Who Is at Risk of a Biceps Tear?

There are a few risk factors associated with a biceps tear. Risk factors of a biceps tear include the following:

  • Age
  • Physical job
  • Weightlifting
  • Sports such as tennis or swimming or sports that involve repetitive throwing

What Are the Symptoms of a Biceps Tear?

The symptoms of biceps tendon tears vary depending on the location and severity of the tear.

If you have a biceps tendon tear, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in your upper arm
  • Sharp pain in your shoulder or elbow
  • Shoulder or elbow weakness
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Bruising at the elbow
  • A popping sound as the injury occurs
  • Difficulties rotating your arm from a palm down position to a palm up position
  • Changes in the appearance of your bicep muscle (Popeye muscle)
  • Limited range of motion at the elbow joint

How a Biceps Tear Is Diagnosed

Diagnosis of a biceps tear will begin with a physical examination of the arm. Our specialists will look for signs of injury and test the function of your arm. Biceps tendon ruptures are usually easy to detect because of the visible change in the upper arm. Partial tears are less obvious and may require further imaging tests to diagnose.

Ultrasound and MRI scans are able to give clear pictures of the tendon and surrounding tissues to give your physician an idea of where the tear has occurred and the extent of the damage.

Bicep Tendon Tear Treatment

Treatment for bicep tendon tears depends on the severity of the injury and where the injury has occurred in the arm. In the instance of a biceps tendon tear, your doctor may recommend conservative treatment options to allow the tendon to heal.

These treatment options could include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Bracing
  • Physical therapy
  • Injection therapy

If you have a complete tear in your biceps tendon, our specialists may recommend surgical treatment to reattach the tendon to its original position on the elbow or shoulder using small sutures and anchors.

This procedure (known as a biceps tendon repair) is performed on an outpatient basis so that you can return home the same day as your procedure. Using our advanced minimally invasive techniques, there is very little surgical trauma, and you are able to recover and return to normal activities shortly after surgery.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Shoulder Specialist Today!

If you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of a biceps tendon tear or rupture, schedule an appointment with OrthoNeuro.

Our specialists will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you. Contact one of our many convenient locations throughout Columbus, OH today!

Shoulder Specialists

If you have severe shoulder pain and stiffness that prevents you from moving your shoulder correctly, call OrthoNeuro in Columbus, Ohio, or request an appointment online for expert orthopedic shoulder treatments.

Scott P. Stephens, MD

Orthopedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

Benjamin W. Szerlip, DO

Orthopedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

B. Rodney Comisar, MD, FAAOS

Orthopedic Surgeon

Jeremy R. Mathis, DO

Orthopedic Surgeon

Keith A. LaDu, DO

Orthopedic Surgeon

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