"Tendons attach muscles to bones. Your biceps 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.
There are two main causes of biceps tendon tears:
If you fall hard on an outstretched arm or lift something too heavy, you can tear your biceps tendon.
Many tears are the result of a wearing down and fraying of the tendon that occurs slowly over time. This naturally occurs as we age. It can be worsened by overuse - repeating the same shoulder motions again and again.
•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.
A biceps tendon tear is made more obvious by contracting the muscle ("Popeye Muscle").
For many people, pain from a long head of biceps tendon tear resolves over time. Mild arm weakness or arm deformity may not bother some patients, such as older and less active people.
In addition, if you have not damaged a more critical structure, such as the rotator cuff, nonsurgical treatment is a reasonable option. This can include:
•Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
Surgical treatment for a long head of the biceps tendon tear is rarely needed. However, some patients who develop cramping of the muscle or pain, or who require complete recovery of strength, such as athletes or manual laborers, may require surgery. Surgery may also be the right option for those with partial tears whose symptoms are not relieved with nonsurgical treatment.