Bicep Tendon Injury

A bicep tendon injury can occur at your elbow or your shoulder. If you tear the biceps tendon at the elbow, you will lose strength in your arm and be unable to forcefully turn your arm from palm down to palm up. Our biceps muscle provides considerable strength to bend our elbow and rotate our forearm. If you tear the biceps tendon at the shoulder, you may lose some strength in your arm and have difficulty forcefully turning your arm from palm down to palm up.

Many people can still function with a biceps tendon tear, and only need simple treatments to relieve symptoms. Others with more severe bicep tendon tears may require surgery to repair the torn tendon.

There are two typical causes of biceps tendon injuries: acute rupture or overuse injuries.

  • Acute rupture or tears can occur if you fall hard on an outstretched arm or lift something too heavy.
  • Overuse injuries are the result of a wearing down and fraying of the tendon that occurs slowly over time. It can be worsened by overuse - repeating the same arm motions again and again.

Bicep Tendon Injury Risk Factors:

Your risk for a bicep tendon injury or tear increases with:

  • Age
  • Heavy overhead activities
  • Shoulder and elbow overuse
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Corticosteroid medications

Bicep Tendon Injury/Tear Symptoms:

  • Sudden, sharp pain in the upper arm or in the front of the elbow
  • Sometimes an audible pop or snap
  • Cramping of the biceps muscle with strenuous use of the arm
  • Bruising from the middle of the anterior arm down toward the elbow
  • Pain or tenderness at the shoulder and the elbow
  • Weakness in the shoulder and the elbow
  • Difficulty turning the arm palm up or palm down
  • Because a torn tendon can no longer keep the biceps muscle tight, a bulge in the upper arm above the elbow ("Popeye Muscle") may appear.

Learn more about bicep tendon injury treatment options

If you have questions, or to make an appointment, call: 404-778-3350.