How to tell if your biceps tendon is torn

There are two places you can tear your biceps tendon, in your shoulder or in your elbow. If you tear your biceps tendon in your shoulder you may hear a pop and then have bruising in your upper arm along with a popeye deformity (bunching of the muscle towards the elbow). If you tear your biceps tendon in your elbow, you will usually have bruising in your elbow with weakness turning your palm upwards. Here at Easy Orthopedics in Colorado Springs, we frequently see patients with biceps pathology including tears in their biceps tendon.

What does a torn tendon in your bicep feel like?

A torn biceps tendon will feel like a sore shoulder or elbow, depending on where the biceps tendon tear has happened. You may also hear a pop, and there will usually be bruising.The most common tear is to tear it in your shoulder. The good news is that the biceps tendon has two attachments in the shoulder, so you can still tear it and have an intact biceps muscle with mostly preserved function. Tears of the biceps tendon in the elbow are a different story. These will also cause soreness and pain, but will also present with a loss of elbow function consisting mostly of the ability to supinate your hand (turn your palm upwards). Tearing the biceps tendon in the elbow will render the biceps tendon non functional. Partial thickness tears of the biceps tendon (meaning that there is a tear but the whole tendon hasn’t torn all the way through), usually feel like pain in the shoulder or elbow with specific movements.

Can a torn bicep tendon heal on its own?

A torn biceps tendon won’t heal on its own. However there are many people with partial thickness biceps tendon tears who do not have pain. Sometimes injections of steroids or PRP can help calm the inflammation down in a partial biceps tendon tear so that they stop hurting. A biceps tendon tear in the shoulder will not heal, but the biceps tendon is still intact (two attachments in the shoulder), so many can live comfortably with a torn biceps tendon in the shoulder. However it may result in a popeye deformity and muscle cramping which some do not like. A torn biceps tendon in the elbow will not heal and almost always requires surgery.

Can you still move your arm with a torn bicep?

You can still move your arm with a torn biceps tendon. In fact, you are still able to flex your arm because the biceps is not the only muscle that does this function. Most of the function of the biceps tendon is in supinating the forearm. So even if you tore it, you will still be able to move your arm, although it may hurt.

I hope we were able to answer some of your questions about how to tell if your biceps tendon is torn. If you would like us to evaluate your biceps tendon and are in the Colorado area, contact us below to make an appointment at Easy Orthopedics.

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