What is a Biceps Tendon Rupture?
A biceps tendon rupture occurs when the tendon that attaches your bicep muscle to your shoulder or your elbow tears away from the bone at either or both of those places. A tear can happen at your shoulder or your elbow completely or partially. In either case, it can be painful.
Common Causes of a Biceps Tendon Rupture
A biceps tendon rupture at the elbow or shoulder can result from an injury, such as falling down on an outstretched arm, moving or twisting your elbow awkwardly or lifting a heavy object, such as the couch or refrigerator.
Age and gender can be also factors. The condition is more common in men age 30 and older. Smoking and using corticosteroid medication can also increase the risk.
Symptoms of a Biceps Tendon Rupture
- A popping sound from your elbow at the time of injury
- Bruising at the elbow
- Severe pain at the shoulder or elbow, especially at first
- Trouble rotating your palm from up to down
- Weakness in your elbow or shoulder
- A bulge in the upper part of your arm, a “Popeye” bicep muscle
- A gap in the front of your elbow
Best Treatment for a Biceps Tendon Rupture/Tear
When you visit the Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey (OINJ), your orthopedic elbow doctor will discuss your symptoms and ask you how the injury occurred.
You will undergo a physical exam. Your OINJ elbow doctor will feel the front part of your elbow, looking for a gap in the tendon, and test the strength of your arm compared to your healthy arm using resistance. For a more informed diagnosis, your doctor also order an X-ray to rule out other causes of elbow pain or an MRI, which can detect complete or partial tears in the biceps tendon.
To regain arm strength and function, surgery may be necessary to reattach the tendon to bone at your elbow or shoulder. Afterwards, physical therapy for several months can help restore your arm strength and range of motion.
Healing Advice – Biceps Tendon Rupture Fit Tips
If you need surgery to repair a biceps tendon rupture, don’t put it off. We usually perform surgery to repair a biceps tendon rupture within two to three weeks of an injury. If we wait much longer, biceps and tendons can be begin to shorten and scar, which can reduce the chances of restoring your elbow and arm to full its full strength and function.
--Christian J. Zaino, MD, an OINJ elbow surgeon with sub-specialized training in hand, upper extremity, and microscopic surgery