Treating a Biceps Tendon Tear

A biceps tendon tear is an injury that affects the tendons that connect the biceps muscle to bones in the shoulder or the elbow. These tendons can tear partially or completely due to sudden trauma or repetitive strain.

The biceps tendon can experience a tear in either the shoulder or the elbow. In the shoulder it is attached to the top of the shoulder socket or within the shoulder joint itself. When someone experiences this type of tear, it is often associated with other shoulder injuries like rotator cuff tears.

If the biceps tendon tear takes place in the elbow, it can tear where it attaches to the radius bone in the forearm. This typically occurs due to overuse or a sudden, traumatic injury.

Symptoms of a biceps tendon tear may include:

  • Sudden, severe pain in the upper arm or elbow
  • Bruising
  • Muscle weakness
  • You may hear a popping sensation at the time of injury

Treatment for a biceps tendon tear can vary depending on the severity of the tear. It can be treated conservatively, but in some cases may need surgery to repair.  In the initial onset of the injury your doctor may recommend the following:

 Rest and activity modification: Initially, resting the affected arm and avoiding activities that aggravate the injury can help reduce pain and inflammation. This might involve modifying your daily activities or sports to avoid placing strain on the injured tendon.

Icing: Applying ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce pain and swelling.

Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help alleviate pain and discomfort.

Physical Therapy: A structured physical therapy program can help improve range of motion, strength, and stability in the affected arm. Therapists may use various techniques such as stretching, strengthening exercises, and manual therapy to promote healing and restore function.

Steroid Injections: In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend corticosteroid injections into the joint to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. However, these injections are typically used cautiously due to potential side effects and may not be suitable for all patients.

Surgical Repair: For severe or complete tears, especially if the tear significantly impairs function or causes persistent pain, surgical repair may be necessary. The surgical procedure may involve reattaching the torn tendon to its original attachment point or anchoring it to another nearby structure. Following surgical repair, a structured rehabilitation program is essential to regain strength, mobility, and function in the affected arm. This typically involves a progressive series of exercises guided by a physical therapist to facilitate optimal recovery.

If you are concerned that you may have a bicept tendon tear, accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment are very important to help prevent further damage, reduce pain, restore functionality, avoid complications, and optimize the recovery process. The doctors at Advantage Orthopedic and Sports Medicine can provide apersonalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and circumstances and they can help determine the most appropriate course of treatment based on the extent of the injury and your individual goals.

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