Biceps tendon rupture
|Biceps tendon rupture|
|Other names: Bicep tendon tear|
|Anatomy of the biceps muscle with its three tendons labelled|
|Usual onset||Proximal: Sudden|
Distal: Acute injury
|Risk factors||Smoking, obesity, corticosteroids, fluoroquinolones, kidney disease|
|Diagnostic method||Based on symptoms and ultrasound|
|Treatment||Proximal: Usually conservative|
Distal: Usually surgery
|Frequency||Proximal: More common|
Distal: 1 in 25,000 per year
Biceps tendon rupture is a partial or complete break of a tendon of the biceps muscle. It can involve the tendons at the shoulder (proximal) or elbow (distal). Symptoms of proximal injury may include some weakness and pain when turning your arm palm up. Symptoms of distal injury generally include greater weakness, especially turning the palm up. A "pop" may be felt when it occurs and bruising may develop.
Proximal ruptures usually due to overuse and are related to rotator cuff disease. Distal ruptures usually occur as a result of a sudden excessive force such as lifting a heavy object. Risk factors include smoking, obesity, corticosteroid use, fluoroquinolones, and kidney disease. Diagnosis is often based on the symptoms and confirmed by ultrasound.
Proximal ruptures are usually treated without surgery. In athletes or when the appearance is of greater importance surgery may be carried out. Distal ruptures are usually repaired by surgery; except in cases were full strength is not important. Without surgery a 50% reduction in strength may occur.
Rupture of the distal tendon occurs in about 1 in 25,000 people a year. Middle aged males are most commonly affected. Proximal injuries are more commonly and primarily occurs in older people. Proximal tendon rupture was first described in 1781 while distal tendon ruptures were first described in 1843.
Signs and symptoms
When a biceps tendon ruptures, the muscle belly changes position in the arm. The bulge that forms is often known as Popeye's deformity, due to the similarity in appearance to the cartoon character Popeye.
A biceps tendon rupture may occur during athletic activities, however avulsion injuries of the distal biceps tendon are frequently occupational in nature and sustained during forceful, eccentric contraction of the biceps muscle while lifting.
Acute rupture of the distal biceps tendon can be treated nonoperatively with acceptable results, but because the injury can lead to 30% loss of elbow flexion strength and 30-50% loss of forearm supination strength, surgical repair is generally recommended. Complete distal biceps tears are commonly treated with re-attachment of the biceps tendon to its native insertion on the tuberosity of the radius using bone tunnels, suture buttons, or suture anchors.
Proximal ruptures of the long head of the biceps tendon can be surgically addressed by two different techniques. Biceps tenodesis includes release of the long head of the biceps tendon off of its insertion on the glenoid and re-attachment by screw or suture anchor fixation to the humerus. Biceps tenotomy consists of simple release of the long head of the biceps without reattachment to the humerus, allowing the tendon to retract into the soft tissues of the proximal upper arm. Degeneration of the tendon can cause partial tears and are rarely associated with a traumatic event.
Treatment of a biceps tear depends on the severity of the injury. In most cases, the muscle will heal over time with no corrective surgery. Applying cold pressure and using anti-inflammatory medications will ease pain and reduce swelling. More severe injuries require surgery and post-op physical therapy to regain strength and functionality in the muscle. Corrective surgeries of this nature are typically reserved for elite athletes who rely on a complete recovery.Older patients will be treated by long head bicep tenotomy almost without exception.
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