Biceps Tendon Tear Treatment in Lafayette, LA

injured bicep diagramThe biceps tendon connects the biceps muscle in the upper arm to the bones in the shoulder and elbow, allowing the forearm to rotate and the elbow to bend. If the biceps muscle sustains a direct blow when the elbow joint is flexed – such as when the arm is extended outward to break a fall – the biceps tendon can fray or tear, either at the shoulder (proximally) or at the elbow (distally).

Symptoms of a Biceps Tendon Tear

As the biceps tendon tears away from its bony attachment point in the shoulder or elbow, a “popping” sensation may occur. A hallmark sign of a biceps tendon tear is sharp pain when the arm is rotated from a palm-down to a palm-up position. Additionally, a visible bulge (“Popeye muscle”) may form in the upper arm if the damaged biceps tendon is unable to hold the biceps muscle firmly in place.

Treatment Options for a Biceps Tendon Tear

Some people are able to function well with a biceps tendon tear at the shoulder, which may produce only mild discomfort, and the damage may resolve on its own over time. To improve comfort in the meantime, a physician may suggest a conservative treatment plan, which may include:

  • Activity modifications – Heavy lifting and activities that involve raising the arm overhead should be temporarily avoided. A sling can be worn to restrict motion during the healing process.
  • Cold therapy – An ice pack can be applied to the painful area several times a day, for up to 20 minutes at a time, to relieve painful swelling.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Over-the-counter remedies such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can be taken as needed to alleviate pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy – Targeted stretches and strengthening exercises can enhance the range of motion in the arm and shoulder.

If the symptoms of a biceps tendon tear at the shoulder do not improve with conservative treatment or if a complete recovery of arm strength is needed (such as in the case of an athlete or manual laborer), a surgical repair may be suggested to re-anchor the torn tendon to the bone.

A biceps tendon tear at the elbow, however, usually results in permanent weakness in the elbow and forearm if the injury is not properly addressed in a timely manner. If there is a complete tear, surgery will help reattach the tendon back to the bone in order for full recovery of strength in the elbow and forearm.

Because the treatment of these can be different, early diagnosis is important.

Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon Practicing in Lafayette

Peter D. Vizzi, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist who practices in Lafayette, Louisiana, provides a full range of treatment options for biceps tendon tears. As an avid athlete himself, he understands the frustration of being sidelined with an injury, and he has helped many patients find much-needed relief from painful musculoskeletal conditions. To learn more or schedule a consultation with Dr. Vizzi, contact his office today.

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