Biceps Tendon Rupture
What is a biceps tendon rupture?
The biceps muscle is in the front of the upper arm. It helps bend the elbow, rotate the forearm, and stabilize the shoulder. The biceps tendons attach the muscle to bones in the shoulder and elbow. Tears of the distal biceps tendon usually completely detach from the bone and pull toward the shoulder. If the biceps tendon is torn at the elbow, you will lose arm strength, especially when turning your arm from palm down to palm up. The torn biceps tendon will not grow back and heal on its own. The main cause of a distal biceps tendon tear is a sudden injury, usually when the elbow is forced straight against resistance. Men over the age of 30 are most likely to tear the distal biceps tendon.
What are the symptoms?
- A "pop" at the elbow. Pain is severe and lasts for about 2 weeks.
- Swelling and bruising in the front of the elbow
- Weakness in elbow bending and forearm supination
- A bulge in the upper arm caused by the recoiled biceps muscle
- A gap in the front of the elbow from the absence of the tendon
What medical tests will I need?
- X-Rays: to rule out any abnormal bone conditions that may be causing your pain.
- MRI: to see if the tendons or muscles are damaged.
How is it treated?
- Surgery: The tendon should be repaired within 4 weeks after injury. After this time, the tendon and biceps muscle begin to scar and shorten, making surgery more difficult.
What do I need to know about surgery?
- You will be contacted within 2 weeks of your pre-op appointment for pricing and scheduling.
- The surgery will last less than 90 minutes and you will go home the same day.
- Your surgeon will make an incision on the front of the elbow.
- The tendon may be attached with stitches through a hole drilled in the bone or a small metal implant may be used to anchor the tendon to the bone
- At your 2 week follow up visit, the sutures and bandage will be removed, and you will begin scar massage.
- You will have a sling and splint for 2 weeks that you will wear for comfort. You may be converted to a custom splint that you will wear for another 6 weeks.
- You can begin lifting at 2-3 months after the surgery.
- Full recovery is expected by 3-6 months after surgery.