The bicep is the muscle that is in the upper part of your arm.  It controls the motion of the shoulder and the elbow.  The bicep is connected to the bones by a tendon at the elbow, and by 2 tendons that wrap around the shoulder. 

There are different injuries that can occur to the bicep.  One is a proximal bicep tendonitis which is at the shoulder.  Another is a proximal bicep tear at the shoulder.  You may also experience distal bicep tendonitis at the elbow, or a distal bicep tear at the elbow.

The most common injury is a proximal rupture.  Which is when one of the two tendons at the upper end that wrap around the shoulder tear.  A ruptured bicep is when the tendon connecting the biceps tears away from your bone.  This is sometimes called the Popeye’s muscle because the bicep tenses up rolling into a ball that makes it look like a cartoon character’s bicep.  A rupture can occur at either the elbow or the shoulder. 


Bicep Injury Symptoms 

  • Symptoms that occur with a bicep rupture are sharp pain at the elbow or shoulder. 
  • A big bruise may appear either on your upper arm or on your forearm near the tendon that tore. 
  • Weakness in your shoulder or elbow can occur. 
  • Trouble rotating your arm. 
  • The bicep will roll into a ball, changing the contour of the muscle.  



Bicep Injury 

This injury isn’t life threatening.  It does need medical attention relatively quickly though.  If you wait too long to get treatment for a ruptured bicep you could risk the tendon scarring, which could cause the ability for full range of motion to become much harder.  Getting quick treatment can help regain full arm function. 

Bicep tears can occur from lifting something heavy, or trying to catch a heavy object that is falling.  They can also occur from a fall. 

Bicep tears are more common in someone who has weakened biceps from other conditions like tendinosis.  When the full tendon has detached from the bone it usually requires surgery to fix it.  The surgery will depend on how severe the tear is, and where it is located.  The surgery is usually very minimally invasive, and is an outpatient procedure.  This means after surgery you will be able to go home the same day.  When surgery is completed you will most likely be recommended to do physical therapy. 

Physical therapy will help you regain your full motion back in your arm.  This process can take several months.  After you have regained your strength, most cases regain full range of motion in their arm.  



Tendonitis is when a tendon becomes sore and painful.  You can have tendonitis in any of your tendons.  Tendonitis of the bicep is common especially in some athletes such as baseball players, swimmers, tennis players and golfers.  Tendonitis occurs usually from overuse and repetitive movements.  It is unusual for someone to have bicep tendonitis in both their elbow and their shoulder at the same time.  It is usually one or the other.  

Tendonitis doesn’t always need surgery to fix.  Sometimes with just rest it will resolve completely on its own.  Other treatment options are cold packs or ice to help with swelling.  Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can help with pain.  Rest is one of the main treatments of tendonitis.  Avoid lifting heavy objects.  Make sure you aren’t flexing at the elbow, or at your shoulder.  Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscle, as well as alter activities that cause your tendonitis.  In severe cases corticosteroid injections can be a treatment option. 

The best way to treat tendonitis is to prevent it.  This can be to make sure you aren’t overusing your muscles too much, or avoiding activities that cause tendonitis.  



A ruptured bicep is not a life threatening injury.  It does however deem quick medical attention to make sure full range of motion can be recovered.  When you wait for treatment of a bicep tear, you risk the ability to regain full range of motion.  Usually with surgery and physical therapy following you can regain strength, and full range of motion. 

Tendonitis is another condition that can affect your bicep.  This can be treated with rest, ice, and altering activities to give your overused tendon a rest. 




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