Biceps Tendon Tear

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For those who have experienced a biceps tendon tear, it’s important to consult with an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible. Although a biceps tendon tear can occur at anytime and to anyone, they are more common in middle-aged males. Often, these injuries occur from overextension of the bicep tendons from repeated use or sports injuries.

No matter what may lead to a biceps tendon tear, we want Aspen residents to know that OrthoAspen is here to help. Our trained, skilled and friendly elite-grade orthopedic experts make our patients’ return to motion a priority. We know how important having an active lifestyle is. That’s why we’re committed to finding a solution to help you get back to what you love to do most.

Causes & Symptoms

Although biceps tendon tears can seemingly occur out of nowhere, there are a few common denominators that can lead to these tears whether in an abrupt rupture or from the wear and tear that happens over time.

Take a look at some of the most common causes of a biceps tendon tear:

  • A fall (most likely with the arms outstretched)
  • Strain and/or overextension as a result of lifting a heavy object
  • Tendon wear from repeated use, often such as repetitive overhead sports
  • Shoulder impingement and rotator cuff injuries that have weakened the biceps tendon
  • Smoking and use of corticosteroids
  • Age (again, typically middle-aged men and older populations)

The most typical symptoms that manifest from a biceps tendon tear include:

  • An audible “pop” (resulting from the tendon as it tears from the forearm bones)
  • Swelling in the bicep area
  • Pain that is constant and centers in the bicep
  • Bruising in or around the damaged bicep area
  • Warm sensation in the elbow
  • Gap that appears in the front of the elbow

It’s important for our patients to understand that OrthoAspen orthopedic specialists will do everything possible to address a shoulder and elbow issue with nonoperative therapies. For that reason, we always conduct a thorough evaluation to assess the severity of a biceps tendon tear.

In addition to a physical examination, your OrthoAspen physician will:

  • Look into your current and past medical health
  • Identify a physical gap in the front of the elbow
  • Address any other symptoms
  • Ask you to bend your arm and attempt to tighten the bicep muscle
  • Acquire X-rays and an MRI to gain further insight into the severity of the tear

If a biceps tendon tear is diagnosed, your OrthoApsen doctor will be as conservative as possible in his/her treatment approach. To reduce the symptoms associated with a proximal biceps tendon tear your doctor will apply ice, suggest limiting activity and/or prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the pain and keep down the swelling.

To restore the mobility and strength of the surrounding muscles, your doctor may prescribe certain flexibility and strengthening exercises.

Fortunately, surgery to reattach the torn tendon back to the bone is rarely needed. However, for patients with partial tears who continue to experience symptoms after non-surgical treatments or who want all of their arm strength back, such as athletes or manual laborers, surgery may be the best option.

For surgical procedures that involve a distal biceps tendon tear some surgeons would use two incisions, while some use only one incision. Both procedures carry certain advantages and disadvantages. During the procedure, the tendon is re-attached to the forearm with stitches through holes drilled inside the bone, or small metal implants may be used to attach the tendon to the bone.

The most important thing for our OrthoAspen patients to remember is that we are here to find solutions that meet the needs of each individual. We don’t want a biceps tendon tear to keep you from doing what you enjoy and live to do.

The entire OrthoAspen team works together to ensure our patients can return to the active lifestyle they treasure—and deserve! To learn more about how to handle a biceps tendon tear or to schedule an appointment, contact us any time at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400