Do you have a torn bicep tendon?

Focused young male tennis player hitting a forehand.

Bicep tendon tears can happen suddenly – if you are lifting something heavy, say – or they can happen gradually, after years of playing a sport. If your upper arm or elbow is in pain, it is important to get help as soon as you can, because if it is a torn bicep it will not heal itself. Here are some other things to know about this painful problem.

How do bicep tendons tear?

The bicep, located in the front of the upper arm, is connected to the shoulder with two tendons and is connected to the elbow with one tendon. A tear can happen at the shoulder or the elbow, and it can be partial or complete; in a complete tear, the tendon tears away from the bone.

Weight lifters, pitchers, and swimmers are at increased risk for bicep tendon tears because of overuse of the shoulder. However, this injury can happen to anyone, even as a result of something as simple as falling on an outstretched hand, and as we age the risk of tearing the tendon increases. People who have used corticosteroid medications may also be at increased risk of tearing their bicep, as this can cause muscles and tendons to weaken.

You might have a torn bicep if you have sudden, severe pain in the elbow or the upper part of the arm. You also might hear a popping sound or see swelling or bruising at the site. You might have difficulty turning your arm, and there might even be a bulge in your upper arm as a result of the bicep no longer being held in place.

Torn bicep tendon treatment

The treatment depends on how serious the tear is, as well as if another part of the arm is damaged (such as the rotator cuff). Your doctor may recommend rest, an over-the-counter pain medication, and/or physical therapy. In serious cases, surgery may be recommended.

If you are having pain in your arm (or any other part of your body!) contact Sports Occupational and Knee Surgery in San Antonio, TX. A torn bicep tendon can be very serious and very painful. Call (210) 696-9000 for an appointment today!

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