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.
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.
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.