Distal biceps tendon repair

Distal biceps tendon repair

Lifting weights in the gym, renovating the house or carrying furniture? A biceps tendon rupture can happen without warning and is usually the result of a sudden injury. It is rare, but in some other cases, a biceps tendon tear can be caused by a degenerative process.

At Schoen Clinic we have many years of experience in the treatment of all aspects of arm, elbow and shoulder conditions. We will help you to relieve your pain with a treatment plan specifically designed for you.

Why is the biceps muscle important?

The biceps muscle is the muscle on the front of your upper arm and is connected to the shoulder and elbow bones by two tendons. Tendons are strong fibrous tissues which attach the muscles in your body to the bones. The tendon which attaches the biceps muscle to the elbow is called the distal biceps tendon. The biceps muscle is important as it has two essential functions; it bends (flexes) the elbow joint and rotates the forearm to a palm up position. If the biceps tendon ruptures, you will have a permanent reduction in strength as the tendon does not grow back to the bone. In which case, surgical intervention will be required to restore functionality and strength.

Symptoms of a distal biceps tendon problem

At the time of the injury it has been reported that there is often a “pop”, with a sudden, severe pain at the elbow. This pain does usually subside as the injury settles but other symptoms can also help to identify an injury to the tendon.

  • Bruising in the elbow
  • Swelling and inflammation in the elbow
  • Weakness bending or twisting the elbow
  • A visible bulge appearing in the upper arm
  • Pain and stiffness around the upper arm which can severely affect your quality of lifes

Causes: how do distal biceps tendon problems develop?

An injury to the distal biceps tendon can be a partial rupture, but in most cases you will see a complete rupture. A rupture of the tendon most often occurs when the elbow is being pulled into a straightened (extended) position while it is actively trying to do the opposite. Common causes include lifting weights/objects that are too heavy or one-arm water skiing.

Often there is a degenerative process, such as tendinosis, that affects the tendon and makes it more vulnerable to injury. People living sedentary lives, or those who are less physically active are also more prone to tendon injury when subjected to bearing the weight of a heavy load. Smoking has also been linked to this form of injury as nicotine can have an impact on tendon quality. During a sudden, forceful forearm flexion, you can experience a stabbing pain with a snapping sensation followed by bruising soon after. In cases of a complete rupture, it is possible for the biceps tendon to retract towards the shoulder, potentially causing a noticeable cosmetic deformity in the upper arm.

Diagnostics: how we identify a distal biceps tendon problem?

A clinical diagnosis is usually straightforward, in some cases X-rays may show a fracture of the tendon ridge (radial tuberosity). Ultrasound or MRI scanning may be used to determine the level of retraction of the tendon and fatty degeneration of the muscle.