How do I know if I have a biceps tendon injury?
There are several warning signs associated with biceps tendinitis and a biceps tendon injury. Tears of the long head of the biceps tendon (the tendon that attaches inside the shoulder) are most common, where tears of the short head of the biceps tendon, seldom happen. Common symptoms of a biceps tendon injury include:
- Sudden, intense pain in the upper arm or site of the tear. The pain may resolve in a few days.
- Hearing or feeling a “pop” when a biceps tendon tears.
- Cramping in the biceps muscle, at the front of the shoulder and in the front of the arm.
- Pain and tenderness at the shoulder and/or the elbow.
- Bruising and swelling.
- A physical change in the front of the arm, sometimes a bulge due to the fact the tendon is no longer holding the muscle in place. This is commonly called a “Popeye muscle.”
- Weakness in the arm.
- Decreased range of motion in the shoulder and/or the elbow.
How is a biceps tendon injury diagnosed?
Patients in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, and the surrounding communities of the Treasure Valley, have access to the shoulder specialists at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho. If a biceps tendon injury is suspected, they will perform a physical exam and possibly an MRI to reveal a biceps tendon or rotator cuff tendon tear. An MRI scan can confirm the diagnosis and show the extent of the tendon injury, as well as any other injuries within the shoulder joint.
What is the treatment for a biceps tendon injury?
For biceps tendon injuries that are minor and have not torn completely, treatment with ice, rest and anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribedTendinitis and partial tendon ruptures may not require surgery; some tendon tears may be associated with rotator cuff tears. Patients are advised to avoid strenuous activity, sports or heavy lifting, until the tendon tear heals completely. Physical therapy may then be recommended to regain strength and flexibility of the shoulder.
Biceps tendon injuries do not always require surgical intervention. The orthopedic shoulder and elbow specialists at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho will discuss options based on patient age, activity level and severity of the injury. Tendon tears that occur near the elbow almost always require surgery and should occur within a few weeks of the injury. Biceps tendon tears that are identified late may still be repaired in certain situations. The shoulder and elbow specialists at The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho, have special training in complex problems and can help with these types of situations. Tears at the shoulder can be repaired with minimally invasive surgery, or arthroscopic surgery, using small incisions to re-anchor the torn tendon back to the bone. If only a small part of the tendon is torn, a simple smoothing (debridement) of the torn fibers may be all that is required. If a large portion of the tendon is torn, the damaged part may be removed from inside the shoulder joint and then the remaining tendon would be attached to the upper arm bone (humerus) so that the tendon may work normally again. This procedure is called biceps tenodesis.
For more information on biceps tendon injuries and biceps tendinitis, please contact The Shoulder Clinic of Idaho, serving Boise, Meridian, Nampa, and the surrounding communities of the Treasure Valley.