Biceps Tendon Rupture

A biceps tendon rupture is an injury that occurs to the biceps tendon causing the attachment to separate from the bone or the tendon to tear. A normal biceps tendon is connected strongly to the bone. When the biceps tendon ruptures, this tendon is detached. Following a biceps tendon rupture, the muscle cannot pull on the bone, and certain movements may be weakened and painful.

Cause

There are two main causes of biceps tendon tears:

Injury. If you fall hard on an outstretched arm or lift something too heavy, you can tear your biceps tendon.

Overuse.  Many tears are the result of a wearing down and fraying of the tendon that occurs slowly over time. This naturally occurs as we age. It can be worsened by overuse – repeating the same shoulder motions again and again.

Overuse can cause a range of shoulder problems, including tendonitis, shoulder impingement, and rotator cuff injuries. Having any of these conditions puts more stress on the biceps tendon, making it more likely to weaken or tear.

Shoulder Conditions

  • Bankart Lesion
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture
  • Broken Collarbone
  • Burners & Stinger
  • Bursitis
  • Chronic Shoulder Instability
  • Fracture of the Shoulder Blade
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Labral Tear
  • Rotator Cuff Tear
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Shoulder Dislocation
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Shoulder Separation
  • Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior (SLAP)
  • Throwing Injuries[/li_item|

Shoulder Treatments

  • Acromioplasty
  • Arthroscopic Bankart Repair
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture Surgery
  • Biceps Tenodesis
  • Broken Collarbone Surgery
  • Bursitis/Shoulder Impingement Surgery
  • Closed Reduction Shoulder Surgery
  • Labrum Surgery
  • Instability Shoulder Surgery
  • Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Revision Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Shoulder Arthritis Surgery
  • Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Treatment
  • Shoulder Separation Surgery
  • Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Throwing Injury Surgeries

Conservative Treatments

The Orthopedic physicians at Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic provide conservative treatment options for Shoulder conditions and injuries.

Symptoms

  • Sudden, sharp pain in the upper arm
  • Sometimes an audible pop or snap
  • Cramping of the biceps muscle with strenuous use of the arm
  • Bruising from the middle of the upper arm down toward the elbow
  • Pain or tenderness at the shoulder and the elbow
  • Weakness in the shoulder and the elbow
  • Difficulty turning the arm palm up or palm down

Because a torn tendon can no longer keep the biceps muscle tight, a bulge in the upper arm above the elbow (“Popeye Muscle”) may appear, with a dent closer to the shoulder.

Diagnosis

Physical Examination & Patient History

During your first visit, your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and medical history. During the physical examination, your doctor will check all the structures of your injury, and compare them to your non-injured anatomy.  Most injuries can be diagnosed with a thorough physical examination.

Imaging Tests

Imaging Tests Other tests which may help your doctor confirm your diagnosis include:

X-rays. Although they will not show any injury, x-rays can show whether the injury is associated with a broken bone.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. If your injury requires an MRI, this study is utilized to create a better image of soft tissues injuries. However, an MRI may not be required for your particular injury circumstance and will be ordered based on a thorough examination by your Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic Orthopedic physician.

Treatment Options

Non-Surgical

For many people, pain from a long head of biceps tendon tear resolves over time. Mild arm weakness or arm deformity may not bother some patients, such as older and less active people.

In addition, if you have not damaged a more critical structure, such as the rotator cuff, nonsurgical treatment is a reasonable option.

This can include:

Ice. Apply cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day to keep down swelling. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen reduce pain and swelling.

Rest. Avoid heavy lifting and overhead activities to relieve pain and limit swelling. Your doctor may recommend using a sling for a brief time.

Physical therapy. Flexibility and strengthening exercises will restore movement and strengthen your shoulder.

Surgical

Surgical treatment for a long head of the biceps tendon tear is rarely needed. However, some patients who require complete recovery of strength, such as athletes or manual laborers, may require surgery.

Surgery may also be the right option for those with partial tears whose symptoms are not relieved with nonsurgical treatment.

Procedure. Several new procedures have been developed that repair the tendon with minimal incisions. The goal of the surgery is to re-anchor the torn tendon back to the bone. Your doctor will discuss with you the options that are best for your specific case.

Complications. Complications with this surgery are rare. Re-rupture of the repaired tendon is uncommon.

Rehabilitation. After surgery, your shoulder may be immobilized temporarily with a sling.

Your PB & JC orthopedic physician will soon start you on therapeutic exercises. Flexibility exercises will improve range of motion in your shoulder. Exercises to strengthen your shoulder will gradually be added to your rehabilitation plan.

Be sure to follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Although it is a slow process, your commitment to physical therapy is the most important factor in returning to all the activities you enjoy.

Surgical Outcome. Successful surgery can correct muscle deformity and return your arm’s strength and function to nearly normal.

Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic

The Orthopaedic physicians at Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic provide comprehensive services to all members of the family.
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