A biceps tear is a partial or complete tear of the biceps tendon. Injuries to the biceps muscle and tendon are fairly common. The biceps (biceps brachii) is made up of two different muscle bundles in the upper arm between the shoulder and elbow. It is a tri-articulate muscle, meaning it works across 3 joints.
- Proximal radioulnar joint (upper forearm)
- Humeroulnar joint (elbow)
- Glenohumeral joint (shoulder)
The biceps tendon attaches muscles to the shoulder in two separate places, helping to bend the elbow and rotate the forearm. A strained biceps is the result of a tear in the biceps tendon. A tear can occur when a person’s arm absorbs a large amount of force (such as breaking a fall) or during a forceful pushing motion. Overuse of the muscle can also result in biceps tendon injuries.
90% of biceps tear injuries occur near the shoulder (vs near the elbow). Any sport that places a high load on the shoulder has a higher risk of biceps injury, such as weight lifting, football, gymnastics, tennis, and wrestling.
Symptoms of a biceps tear may include:
- Snapping sound
- Sudden upper arm pain
- Bulge in the biceps area
- Loss of strength
- Muscle spasms
- Shoulder tenderness
- Bruising between the shoulder and elbow
- Difficulty rotating the forearm or bending the elbow
The treatment and healing time for a biceps tear depends on the type of tear experience. A partial tear usually heals within 3-6 weeks, while a full tear requires surgery and may take 4-6 months for recovery.
Tendon injuries such as a biceps tear are traditionally slow to heal themselves. Mild injuries that have not damaged more critical structures (such as the rotator cuff) may be treated with nonsurgical methods. Ice, rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, naproxen), and physical therapy may be sufficient to treat the injury. Patients that continue to experience symptoms from a partial biceps tear after nonsurgical treatments have been exhausted may be referred for surgery.
Surgical treatment involves a procedure to re-anchor the tendon back to the bone. Complications are rare, and re-rupture (repeat tear) is uncommon. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) may be used in conjunction with surgery in the treatment of a biceps tear. PRP, combined with adult stem cell therapy, accelerates the healing of tendon injuries by delivering an injection of concentrated growth factors directly to the injury site, stimulating soft tissue repair and regrowth.
If you are interested in non-surgical alternatives or you are in need of a consultation, please contact us at 201-729-0001. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. You can find us at our conveniently located clinics in West Orange, Aberdeen, and Lyndhurst.