Adam C. Young, MD
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Alejandra Rodriguez-Paez, MD
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Alexander Gordon, MD
Alexander M. Crespo, MD
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Torn Bicep Tendons in The Shoulder

The muscle in the upper part of the arm, called the bicep, allows you to rotate you arm at the shoulder and bend your arm at the elbow.  Part of the bicep’s function is also to stabilize the arm. The bicep is attached to tendons that connect it to the elbow and the shoulder. When the tendon that attaches the muscle to the shoulder tears it can be incredibly painful and cause a variety of symptoms. Knowing the causes and risk factors for a torn bicep tendon can help you avoid this common injury. Understanding your treatment options can allow you to go into your orthopedic appointment with some piece of mind and an idea about what you can expect.

The Causes And Risks Of Bicep Tendon Tears

There are really only two primary causes of bicep tendon tears are sudden injuries and overuse. Trying to lift something heavy or falling very hard with your arms extended are two common injuries that can tear a tendon in your bicep. Repeating the same motion with the shoulder can result in a variety of conditions like tendonitis and rotator cuff problems. These overuse conditions may cause the tendon to weaken and tear.

There are a few things that can increase the likelihood of a torn bicep tendon even more.  Your age is one risk factor, the older you are the more wear that the tendon experiences. Overhead activities are another risk factor, anything that causes you to lift you arms over you head; especially when heavy weights are involved put increased pressure on the tendons.

The Symptoms Of A Torn Bicep Tendon

  • Sharp pain in your upper arm that occurs suddenly
  • A pop or snap sound from you shoulder
  • The bicep muscle may feel like it is cramping
  • You may notice bruising between the shoulder and elbow
  • Your elbow and shoulder feel week
  • It is difficult to rotate your hand.
  • You may experience pain in your shoulder or elbow
  • Your upper arm may look like it has a bulge in it

Treating A Bicep Tendon Tear

Depending on the severity of your injury an orthopedic physician may advise you to treat the injury at home with ice and rest. They may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce swelling and to manage the pain. In some cases the physician may prescribe a physical therapy regimen to help restore your flexibility and strength. In the most sever circumstances your shoulder may require surgical intervention. No matter how much pain you are experiencing you need to first make an appointment with an orthopedic physician, like the ones at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute. Their experience and training means that you won’t find a better choice for your orthopedic needs than IBJI.

*The blog is for general information and educational purposes only regarding musculoskeletal conditions. The information provided does not constitute the practice of medicine or other healthcare professional services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. Readers with musculoskeletal conditions should seek the advice of their healthcare professionals without delay for any condition they have. The use of the information is at the reader’s own risk. The content is not intended to replace diagnosis, treatment or medical advice from your treating healthcare professional.

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