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Biceps Tendon Tear

The biceps is one of the main muscles in the upper arm that is responsible for bending the elbow and rotating the forearm and wrist.  The biceps tendon is the link between the muscle of the biceps and the bones below the elbow.  An injury can occur due to repetitive (or overuse) activities or due to a sudden forceful tearing of the tendon, such as might occur when trying to prevent something heavy from falling or carrying a heavy object.

A tear of the biceps tendon may be partial or complete.   Complete tears of the biceps tendon are much more common in middle aged men compared to other age groups.

Symptoms of partial tendon tears include pain, swelling, tenderness in the elbow crease or just below the elbow crease, especially with strenuous activity or firm gripping.  One might also notice weakness in elbow and forearm strength.

When a complete tear occurs one usually feels a “pop” in the front of the elbow with immediate pain and swelling to follow.  Bruising of around the elbow may develop a few days later.   Another sign of a complete tear is the appearance of shortening of the biceps muscle itself.  Even in complete tears the ability to bend the elbow and rotate the forearm is usually maintained, although with less strength.

Depending upon the severity and type of injury, the bicep may be partially or completely torn.  If you suspect a bicep tear, it is important to seek medical attention as this condition may worsen if left untreated.

Signs and symptoms of a Bicep Tendon Tear may include:

  • Pain in the bicep
  • Swelling in the bicep
  • Tenderness just below the crease of the elbow
  • Bruising around the elbow
  • Shortening of the bicep muscle