Tears to the biceps tendons may be complete or partial, and they almost exclusively occur at the long head attachment due to injury or overuse. Signs that you may have torn a biceps tendon include:
- Popping sensation at time of injury
- Sudden, sharp pain in the upper arm
- Feeling of weakness
- Difficulty rotating your arm
- Presence of a bulge in the upper arm above the elbow
- Bruising around the elbow
What to Expect From Your Biceps Tendon Repair
Diagnosing a Biceps Tendon Tear
To diagnose a biceps tendon tear, your orthopedic specialist at Motion Orthopaedics will first conduct a physical assessment. For a complete tear, the indicating factor is often the presence of a deformity or bulge in the upper arm above the elbow. To determine a partial tear, as well as any accompanying injuries, your physician will often order additional diagnostic imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI.
Surgery is ideal for patients who require a complete recovery of strength, such as competitive athletes or manual laborers.
Potential risks and complications of a biceps tendon repair include:
- Decreased strength
- Loss of nerve sensation
- Diminished range of motion
- Infection at the incision site
During the Procedure
There are several surgical methods that your surgeon may use depending on the extent of your tear and the presence of other injuries. Certain biceps tendon repairs may involve one or more incisions to re-anchor the torn tendon back to the bone. In severe cases, your orthopedic specialist may have to perform a tendon graft, which is when a piece of one of your healthy tendons is used to replace the injured biceps tendon.
The procedure should be performed approximately two to three weeks following an injury to the area to prevent the development of scar tissue.
Following your biceps tendon repair, your recovery will entail:
- Physical therapy: rehabilitative exercises to regain strength and mobility
- Incision care: keeping your incision sites clean to prevent infections
- Pain management: medications prescribed by your orthopedic surgeon to relieve any post-operative pain
- Immobilization: temporarily stabilizing your arm in a sling to facilitate healing