Biceps Tendon Tear
A rare but serious injury, a biceps tendon tear can cause severe pain and weakness in your arm. This awful but potentially treatable condition is caused when the tendon that connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder is torn. So, how can you tell if you have this injury, and what can be done about it?
Let’s look at everything you need to know about a tear in the biceps tendon, including how to treat a tear and what you can expect in terms of recovery time.
What is a Biceps Tendon Tear?
The biceps muscle is located in the front of the upper arm; this muscle has two tendons that attach it to the shoulder. The long head of the biceps tendon attaches the muscle to the shoulder socket, and the short head attaches the muscle to the shoulder blade. A biceps tendon tear can occur at either of these attachment points, though these painful tears usually occur in the long head of the biceps tendon.
A biceps tendon tear is a serious injury that can cause severe pain and weakness in your arm. This condition is caused when the tendon that connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder is torn.
There are two types of biceps tendon tears:
- Partial tear: This type of tear involves only a partial rupture of the tendon.
- Complete tear: This type of tear involves a complete rupture of the tendon.
What Are the Symptoms of a Biceps Tendon Tear?
The most common symptom of a biceps tendon tear is sudden, sharp pain in the shoulder or upper arm. This pain is often accompanied by a popping or snapping sound. Other symptoms may include:
- Severe pain and weakness in the affected arm
- Arm numbness or tingling
- Bruising or swelling in the arm
- Inability to fully extend the arm
- A visible bulge in the upper arm (if the tendon has completely torn through the skin)
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see our doctors right away.
What Causes Biceps Tendon Tears?
Biceps tendon tears can occur due to a sudden injury or from degradation over time. Sudden injuries can occur from falling on an outstretched arm, lifting a heavy object, or from a direct blow to the shoulder. Degenerative tears are more common in older adults and can be caused by the wear and tear of the tendons with age.
Some other risk factors for developing a biceps tendon tear include:
- Previous injury to the shoulder
- Repeated overhead motions of the arm
- Bone fracture or dislocation in the shoulder
- Rotator cuff tear
Causes of biceps tendon tears can vary depending on the type of tear. A partial tear may be caused by overuse of the biceps muscle, while a complete tear may be caused by a fall or direct blow to the shoulder.
When the biceps tendon tears, it can cause pain, weakness, and instability in the shoulder. A complete tear of the biceps tendon can cause the muscle to retract, which may result in a deformity in the upper arm.
Treatments for Biceps Tendon Tears
There are a few different treatments for biceps tendon tears, depending on the severity of the injury.
Ice: Applying ice to the injured area can help reduce pain and swelling. Ice works by constricting blood vessels, which decreases blood flow to the area.
Rest: It is important to rest the injured arm to allow the tendon to heal properly. This means avoiding activities that put stress on the tendon, such as lifting weights.
Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles and tissues around the tendon, which can help support the tendon and prevent further injury.
Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tendon. The type of surgery will depend on the severity of the injury.
Stretches that May Help with Pain Relief
Do not attempt to stretch or massage the injured tendon as this may cause further damage unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional. These stretches are intended to help with pain relief and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice, and in some cases, may even make the pain worse.
Pectoral stretch: Stand in an open doorway with your arm extended at shoulder height and your palm flat against the door frame. Step forward with your opposite foot and lean your body forward until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Triceps stretch: Stand with your arm extended overhead and your palm flat against a wall. Bend your elbow and bring your palm down towards your back until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Shoulder blade squeeze: Sit up straight with your shoulders back and down. Place your hands behind your head, interlace your fingers, and pull your elbows back until you feel a squeeze in your shoulder blades. Hold for 30 seconds and release.
Contact Us Today for Help
Premier Podiatry & Orthopedics is the leading provider of conservative and surgical treatments for all types of foot and ankle conditions in Roseville, CA. Our board-certified surgeons have extensive experience treating biceps tendon tears and can provide you with the care you need to get back to your normal life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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