About Bicep Tendon Tears

The biceps muscle along your upper outer arm is connected to your shoulder and elbow by the bicep tendons. These tendons can become torn by overuse or injury. Many people can still function with a bicep 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.

Types of Bicep Tendon Tears

Bicep tendon tears can be categorized by the location of the injury.

Types of bicep tendon tears include:

  • Bicep tendon tear at the shoulder: The most common form of bicep tendon tear, caused by injury or overuse of the shoulder.
  • Bicep tendon tear at the elbow: A less common form of bicep tendon tear usually resulting from injury of the elbow.

Symptoms of Bicep Tendon Tears

A bicep tendon tear may be accompanied by a popping noise and/or a sudden, sharp pain in the upper arm. The symptoms you experience as a result of the tear can vary.

Symptoms of bicep tendon tears may include:

  • Bruising from the middle of the upper arm down toward the elbow
  • Bulge in the upper arm above the elbow (“Popeye Muscle”) with a dent closer to the shoulder because the torn muscle cannot keep the biceps muscle tight
  • Cramping of the biceps muscle with strenuous use of the arm
  • Difficulty turning the arm palm up or palm down
  • Pain or tenderness at the shoulder and the elbow
  • Weakness in the shoulder and the elbow

Risk Factors for Bicep Tendon Tears

Activities that involve raising your arm over your head such as swimming or pitching a baseball can result in bicep tendon tears, and certain patients are more likely to sustain this injury.

Risk factors for bicep tendon tears may include:

  • Age: Bicep tendon tears are most common among middle-aged patients.
  • Health history: Use of corticosteroid medications can contribute to tendon damage.s
  • Sex: Most patients with bicep tenon tears are male.

Treating Bicep Tendon Tears 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.

Care Team Approach

At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place to avoid having to schedule multiple appointments with providers at locations all over the city. The Sports and Injury Clinic care team includes orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, physiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, social workers, and more, who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.

We also collaborate with our colleagues at The University of Texas at Austin and the Dell Medical School to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide you with comprehensive, whole-person orthopedic care to help you meet your goals. Treatment may include non-surgical interventions, such as lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, or medication and injections, or surgery may be the best course of action to help improve your pain and function. Advanced imaging and lab testing are also available on-site if needed.

Learn More About Your Care Team

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Musculoskeletal Institute

Health Transformation Building, 9th Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
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Sports and Injury Clinic

Health Transformation Building, 9th Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions