Our expert team at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia knows how to properly care for this injury. Contact one of our offices today to learn more about what can be done. In the meantime, we’ve included some helpful information below regarding torn biceps tendon at the elbow.
A biceps tendon tear may occur in two locations. A biceps tendon tear at the shoulder is a rupture of the proximal biceps tendon. A biceps tendon tear at the elbow is a rupture of the distal biceps tendon, which is the topic of this summary.
This tendon connects the biceps muscles to the bones in your shoulder and elbow and gives you the ability to bend the elbow and rotate your forearm. If this tendon is torn, you will have difficulty rotating your hand from a palm down to a palm up position. You may also notice an altered or asymmetric appearance of your biceps muscle when looking in the mirror.
There are two forms of biceps tendon tears:
Since a torn biceps at the elbow is not a common injury, knowing the symptoms can help you prevent further damage. Torn biceps at the elbow symptoms may include:
Additionally, you may notice a bulge in the upper region of your arm. This occurs because your tendon is no longer holding the muscle properly in place.
Due to the absence of your tendon, there may also be a gap in the front of the elbow. This is something that your specialist will be looking for during your examination.
An injury can cause a tear if your elbow is forced against resistance. This can happen if you fall suddenly with your arm outstretched. Lifting heavy objects can also cause your biceps tendon to tear.
Additionally, preexisting conditions such as tendonitis can weaken your biceps tendon, which can eventually lead to a tear. Other facets such as smoking, advancing age, heavy overhead activities, and the use of certain antibiotics, anabolic steroids, or steroid injections can contribute to a tear.
Your physician will discuss your symptoms, review your medical history, and conduct a complete physical examination. As mentioned earlier, your physician will look for a gap in the front of your elbow. You will also be asked to bend your arm and tighten your biceps muscle to see if you have a partial tear.
Additionally, x-rays may be taken to verify that there are no other conditions contributing to your pain. An MRI can show whether your tear is partial or complete.
While a distal biceps tendon tear can be a serious injury, it doesn’t always require surgical intervention. Many times, it can be treated by nonsurgical measures, especially if you receive assistance from a specialist early on. These nonsurgical treatments include:
If your arm is not responding efficiently to the conservative treatment options, then surgery may be recommended. For those whose biceps functions are essential for their occupation or hobbies such as manual laborers or athletes, surgery may be the best option.
If surgery is required, then following the post-surgical care instructions is crucial to your recovery process. After your surgery, you will be provided with flexibility and strengthening exercises to boost and improve your elbow’s range of motion.
While complications are not commonly experienced, they may include the following:
Tearing your biceps tendon at the elbow can be a frightening experience. Thankfully, it can be treated conservatively. The sooner you see a specialist, the faster you will recover.
Schedule an appointment at either one of our Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow offices. We are conveniently located in Marietta and Atlanta, GA. Our skilled specialists look forward to helping you with the recovery of your injury.
Dr. Randall Alexander, MD
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