Seaside Surgery Center Blog

Sharing news of note and informative articles on joint conditions

Biceps tendon tears

biceps tendon tearsBiceps tendon tears affect an area of our bodies long given to romanticism. They’ve been nicknamed “guns,” “pipes,” and “pythons.” They’re why Popeye eats his spinach. They’re where macho men sport elegant, flowery tattoos proclaiming their devotion to “Mom.” Rosie the Riveter rolled up her sleeve and became the nation’s wartime heroine with hers. They’re your biceps. Even if your muscles themselves are toned, they are attached to your shoulder and elbow with tendons that can tear. The tears usually occur from injury or overuse (one too many reps?). The tears can be partial or complete. Either way, they require treatment, and sometimes surgery.

Biceps tendon tears at the shoulder

The biceps tendon attaches at the shoulder in two places. Tears at the shoulder usually occur in only one of the attachment points. Therefore many people are able to continue using their arm even after a biceps tendon tear. However, when you tear your biceps tendon at the shoulder, you may damage other parts of the shoulder. So you should not leave the injury untreated.

Biceps tendon tears at the elbow

If your biceps tendon tears at the other end, the end attaching the tendon to the elbow, it will require surgery to repair it and regain your arm strength.  Biceps tendon tears at the elbow are uncommon, occurring in only three to five people per 100,000 each year. They rarely occur in women.

So, how do you know if you have a biceps tendon tear? You may have heard a “pop” at the time of the injury. The pain is intense at first, but may subside after a week or two. Also, you may see bruising on your arm and your biceps muscle may cramp with strenuous use of your arm. Your physician may require ultrasound or MRI imaging studies to confirm the diagnosis of a biceps tendon tear.

Non-surgical treatments concentrate on relieving pain and maintaining as much of the arm function as possible. Several new surgical procedures have been developed, give us a call at 239-592-4955 and ask to speak to one of our surgeons specializing in sports medicine.