About Bicep Tendon Tears
Your bicep tendons attach the biceps muscle to bones in the shoulder and in the elbow. If you tear the biceps tendon at the shoulder you may lose some strength in your arm and have pain when you forcefully turn your arm from palm down to palm up. Many people can still function with a biceps tendon tear, and only need simple treatments to relieve symptoms. If symptoms cannot be relieved by nonsurgical treatments, or if a patient requires complete recovery of strength, surgery to repair the torn tendon may be required. Our orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine providers work with you on developing a specialized treatment plan with your goals in mind with a team dedicated to helping you every step of the way.
The most common symptoms of a bicep tendon tear include:
- 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.
Bicep Tendon Tear Treatment Approach at UT Health Austin
Upon evaluation of your bicep injury, your medical provider will discuss nonsurgical treatment option as an initial approach to healing the tear and improving function. These options often include activity modifications and rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, physical therapy and strengthening exercises and in some cases steroid injections. In rare cases, arthroscopic surgery may be suggested as a treatment option if the pain does not improve. Your care team will walk you through the risks and benefits as well as what to expect throughout your recovery process.
About the Sports and Injury Clinic
The UT Health Austin Musculoskeletal Institute Sports and Injury Clinic includes experts in hip and knee orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, and social workers. This team enables us to provide the right care for the right patient at the right time. For some patients, nonsurgical interventions such as lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, medication and injections can help improve pain and function, while surgery may be the best course of action for others. Whatever your needs, our team is here to listen and work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.