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Biceps Tendon Rupture

Attached to the bicep muscle is the bicep tendon, which runs from the elbow to shoulder. A tear of the bicep tendon can occur, with symptoms ranging from a gradual or sharp, sudden pain in the upper arm, bruising, tenderness, immobility, or weakness. This tear can occur in the shoulder or the elbow. Injury and overuse of the shoulders and arms are the main causes of a tendon rupture. Common risk factors include age, lifting weights that are too heavy, shoulder overuse, smoking, and corticosteroid medications.

Diagnosing Biceps Tendon Rupture

Physical Exam

Your physician will ask you a series of questions and is likely to do a physical exam. The physical exam will including examining any specific areas of concern, especially as they relate to the reason for your visit to the office.

X-Rays

A form of electromagnetic radiation with very high frequency and energy. X-rays are used to examine and make images of things such as the bones and organs inside the body.

MRI

This test uses a magnetic field, radiofrequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed images of body structures in multiple places. You may be injected with a contrast agent for better imaging, and you will most likely lie on a moving table as pictures are taken. MRI is a more detailed tool than x-ray and ultrasound and for certain organs or areas of the body, it provides better images than CT. MRI may not be recommended if you have a pacemaker or other metal implants.

Treatments for Biceps Tendon Rupture

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

A class of medications, including but not limited to aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen, that are used for reducing pain and redness, swelling, and heat (inflammation) in arthritis and other painful inflammatory disorders.

Physical Therapy

Sometimes referred to simply as "PT," this is a type of rehabilitative treatment that uses specially designed exercises and equipment to help patients preserve, regain, or improve their physical abilities following injury, disability, disease, or surgery. Physical therapy can include therapeutic exercise, massage, assistive devices, and patient education and training.

Surgery for Biceps Tendon Tear

Though rarely needed, surgery may be required for patients with cramping of the biceps muscle or pain, or for those who need to regain their biceps strength completely, such as athletes or manual laborers. Surgery might also be considered for those with partial tears whose symptoms are not relieved with nonsurgical treatment. The goal of the surgery is to re-anchor the torn tendon back to the bone. A number of new procedures have been developed that involve only minimal incisions. Recovery may involve placing the arm in a sling, combined with therapeutic exercises to improve flexibility and strength. Physical therapy is particularly important following this type of surgery to achieve the best outcomes.

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