Biceps Tendon Injuries at the Shoulder
Biceps Tendon Injuries at the Shoulder
Bicep Tear Treatment in St. Louis, MO
Tendons are strong, thick cords of tissue that attach muscles to bones.
The following tendons connect the biceps muscle of your upper arm to bones at the shoulder and elbow:
- Upper biceps tendon, also called the proximal biceps tendon, which consists of:
- Long head tendon – attaches the biceps muscle to the top of the shoulder blade
- Short head tendon – attaches the biceps muscle to the front of the shoulder, at a bump atop the shoulder blade called the coracoid process
- Distal biceps tendon – attaches the biceps muscle to the radius bone of your forearm
Overuse or repetitive strain are the most common causes of biceps tendon injuries. Athletes and sports lovers are at risk, as are those with arthritis and other shoulder issues such as shoulder impingement or repeated shoulder dislocations.
Types of Biceps Tendon Injuries
Problems involving the biceps tendons include:
This is inflammation of the upper biceps tendon (almost always the long head tendon). It is not uncommon for biceps tendonitis to occur along with tendonitis of the shoulder’s rotator cuff. Symptoms of biceps tendonitis includes sharp pain at the front of your shoulder, including being tender to the touch, and shoulder weakness. Pain may sometimes rotate down the arm and up toward the neck.
When an injured biceps tendon fails to heal and worsens over time, it is considered a chronic, degenerative condition called biceps tendonosis. Its symptoms are similar to tendonitis (pain and a loss of flexibility), although it doesn’t involve inflammation.
Inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath surrounding the biceps tendon is called biceps tenosynovitis. The inflammation may be caused by infection or inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. In the case of biceps tenosynovitis, pain will occur with movement, when engaging the affected biceps muscle.
Also called a ruptured biceps tendon, a torn biceps tendon can be either a partial tear or complete detachment of tendon from bone.
Signs and symptoms of a biceps tendon tear include a “pop” or ripping sensation at the moment of injury, pain and swelling at the site of the injury, difficulty turning your palm, and/or a change in the look of your biceps muscle (the bulge in your upper arm) due to it becoming unanchored by a damaged tendon – a condition sometimes called Popeye deformity.
Types of biceps tendon tears include:
- Proximal biceps tendon tear at the shoulder – In the majority of all cases, this involves tearing of the long head tendon. This type of tear may also damage other parts of the shoulder such as the muscles or tendons of the rotator cuff.
- Distal biceps tendon tear at the elbow – You may still be able to use the elbow (because other muscles will compensate for loss of connection to the biceps muscle), but your symptoms may worsen over time until properly treated. See biceps tears at the elbow for more information.
- Microtears as a result of biceps tendonitis – This typically affects the long head of the bicep tendon, after fraying over time due to wear and tear and biceps tendonitis.
Biceps Tendon Tear Treatment Options
Treatment of biceps tendon injuries will depend on the location and severity of the damage. Generally speaking, tendons can take a while to heal because tendons have limited access to a blood supply that can provide the nourishment needed for proper healing.
If conservative measures such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and pain management therapies fail to relieve your symptoms, surgery may be recommended.
Most surgical procedures used to treat biceps tendon injuries involve repairing the tendon and reattaching it to bone. Rehabilitation afterward is critical to regain strength and flexibility of the shoulder.
Orthopedic Surgeon in St. Louis, MO
Are you noticing something unusual about your biceps muscle? Perhaps a biceps tendon injury may be causing your shoulder (or elbow) pain. Don’t wait to get the help you need. Call Dr. Jason Browdy, an orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis, Missouri at (314) 991-2150 or request an appointment now.