Talking With A Bone Specialist

Biceps Tendon Tear: Is It The Cause Of Your Shoulder Pain?

If one of your shoulders throbs with pain every time you move it, you may do all you can to ease it. However, the home treatments or OTC drugs you use may not work well if you have an orthopedic problem called biceps tendon tear. Biceps tendon tear develops when you injure one or both tendons connecting the biceps muscle to shoulder joint. The aging process, smoking, and a few other factors can cause a torn tendon by weakening it. Your pain can worsen with time if you don't find the right treatment for it. Here's more information about a biceps tendon tear and what you can do to repair or treat it.

How Does Your Biceps Tendon Tear?

Your biceps is the large muscle located in the upper front portion of your arm. The muscle branches off into two tendon heads: a short tendon and a long tendon. The heads branch off at the top of the muscle and connect directly to the shoulder bones. Although tendons can stretch to allow movement in your biceps, certain factors can weaken or damage them.

Biceps tendon tear can occur immediately, such as when you overstretch the upper arm or pull the shoulder joint during heavy lifting. The condition can also be progressive, or happen over time, as a part of the aging process. Some people experience biceps tendon tears when they do things that weaken a tendon, such as take steroid medications or smoke cigarettes. 

Unless you have problems with both biceps tendons, you may be able to still move or use your arm and shoulder. Most biceps tendon injuries or weakness occur in the longer tendon. Although you'll feel pain, the shorter tendon will allow you to continue using your limb to some extent. Eventually, the shorter tendon develops problems from overuse and strain.

One of the best ways to treat a biceps tendon tear is to see an orthopedist.

What Can You Do to Repair Your Torn Tendon?

An orthopedist will most likely examine your shoulder and arm with X-rays or CT scans. A doctor will need to know the extent of your problem before they can prescribe a treatment for it. For most biceps tendon tears, rest, ice, and pain medications solve the problem. Physical therapy can help if you lost complete or partial movement in your limb. 

However, if the diagnostic tests reveal a large tear or problems with both tendons, you may need to have surgery. Biceps tendon surgery allows a specialist or surgeon to reattach the tendons to their correct locations in the shoulder. You can expect to wear a brace or sling on your shoulder and/or arm during the healing process. Unless instructed to do so, you should always keep your arm or shoulder in the sling to avoid re-injuring your biceps tendon.

It's possible for tears to occur at the elbow, which may also require surgery to repair. The recovery time for an elbow/biceps surgery can last anywhere from four weeks to six weeks. As with traditional biceps tear surgery, expect to wear a sling and undergo physical therapy as the site heals. 

To keep your biceps tendons from tearing in the future, exercise precautions when lifting heavy objects. For instance, use a lifting machine to raise or transport heavy objects instead of your arms and shoulders. Also, avoid repetitive activities that place strain in your biceps, shoulders, or arms. If your job or sport requires you to use repetitive movements, try to take short breaks to rest your arms and shoulders. 

If your pain returns or spreads to other areas of your shoulder and arm, schedule a visit with an orthopedist for additional care. For more information, contact a business such as Gotham City Orthopedics.