The biceps muscle, located in the front of the upper arm allows you to bend the elbow and rotate the arm. It is attached via tendons to the bones in the shoulder and in the elbow.
Two tendons attach the biceps muscle to the bones in the shoulder; the long-head tendon that attaches it to the top of the shoulder’s socket (glenoid) and the short-head that attaches it to the shoulder blade. Tears are more likely to occur in the long-head of the biceps tendon. Tears of the short-head of the biceps are very rare. Even in cases of a complete tear of the long-head, the short head of the biceps may allow you to continue using your biceps muscle.
The most common symptom is a sudden, severe pain in the upper arm. At times you may hear a “pop”. Other symptoms include swelling, visible bruising, weakness in the shoulder.
Treatment options for Biceps Tendon Rupture
Conservative treatment for a proximal biceps tendon tear includes ice application, limiting activity, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the pain and keep the swelling down. To restore the mobility and strengthen the surrounding muscles, your doctor may prescribe certain flexibility and strengthening exercises.
Surgery to reattach the torn tendon back to the bone is rarely needed. However, for patients with partial tears who continue to experience symptoms after non-surgical treatments or who want all of their arm strength back, such as athletes or manual laborers, surgery may be the best option. Complications are rare and a re-tearing of the repaired tendon is rare. Following surgical repair, you will need to do flexibility and strengthening exercises to improve the range of motion in your shoulder.