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Bicep Tendon Tear at the Elbow


Elbow Bicep Tendon Tear Specialist

A sudden injury or lifting a heavy object may cause a tear of bicep tendon resulting in severe pain in the elbow. Advancing age, smoking or other medical problems such as tendonitis can also be the reasons for the condition. Elbow bicep tendon tear specialist, Dr. Kelechi Okoroha provides diagnosis and individualized non-surgical and surgical management for bicep tendon tear at the elbow in Minneapolis. Contact Dr. Okoroha’s team for an appointment today!

Anatomy of the Bicep Tendon

The bicep muscle, located in the front of the upper arm allows you to bend the elbow and rotate the arm. Bicep tendon attaches the bicep muscle to the bones in the shoulder and in the elbow. The bicep tendon that attaches the muscle at the elbow is known as the distal bicep tendon.

What is a Bicep Tendon Tear?

A bicep tear can be complete or partial. Partial bicep tendon tears will not completely break the tendon while complete tendon tears will break the tendon into two parts. Tears of the distal bicep tendon are usually complete and the muscle is separated from the bone. Tears of the distal bicep tendon most often result from a sudden injury or lifting a heavy object.

Causes of Bicep Tendon Tear

A bicep tendon tear can be caused by an injury where your elbow is forced against resistance or while lifting heavy objects. Other problems such as tendonitis are more likely to weaken or tear the bicep tendon. Additional risk factors such as advancing age, smoking and use of corticosteroids can also result in a tendon tear.

When a bicep tendon tear at the elbow is suspected, it is important to schedule an orthopedic consultation for proper examination and care. Dr. Kelechi Okoroha is a bicep tendon tear specialist who provides detailed examination and care for patients with elbow bicep tendon tear in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Minnesota and beyond.

Symptoms of Bicep Tendon Tears

The most common symptom of a bicep tendon tear is sudden, severe pain at the elbow. At times, you may hear a pop. Other symptoms may include swelling, visible bruising, weakness in the elbow, and trouble twisting the forearm. A bulge in the upper region of your arm, because the tendon is no longer holding the muscle in place properly, and a gap in the front of the elbow because of the absence of the tendon.

Diagnosis of Bicep Tendon Tear

The diagnosis of a bicep tendon tear is based on your symptoms, medical history, and a thorough physical examination performed by Dr. Okoroha.

During the physical examination, Dr. Okoroha will look for a gap in the front of the elbow. Dr. Okoroha will diagnose a partial tear by asking you to bend your arm and tighten the bicep muscle. You may have pain if there is a partial tear. X-rays may be taken to rule out other conditions causing elbow pain. Using an MRI scan, Dr. Okoroha can confirm if the tear is partial or complete.

Treatment Options for Bicep Tendon Tears

After careful review of your history and examination, Dr. Okoroha will provide an individualized treatment plan to help you return to your normal function.

Non-surgical Treatment Options for Bicep Tendon Tears

Conservative treatment for a proximal bicep tendon tear includes:

  • Ice application
  • Limiting activity
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the pain and swelling
  • Flexibility and strengthening exercises to restore the mobility and strength of the surrounding muscles

Surgery for Bicep Tendon Tears

Surgery to reattach the torn tendon back to the bone is rarely needed. However, it may be the best option for patients with partial tears who continue to experience symptoms after non-surgical treatments or who want all their arm strength back, such as athletes or manual laborers.

Dr. Okoroha may opt for several surgical procedures for distal bicep tendon tear where the distal bicep tendon is reattached to the forearm bone. One or two incisions may be used. During the procedure, the tendon is attached with stitches through holes drilled inside the bone or small metal implants may be used to attach the tendon to the bone.

Post-surgical Care for Bicep Tendon Tears

Following surgical repair, you will be advised flexibility and strengthening exercises to improve the range of motion in your shoulder.

Risks and Complications of Bicep Tendon Tears

Complications are rare and may include numbness and weakness in the forearm, formation of new bone, limited movement and tearing may recur.

If you have experienced a bicep tendon tear at the elbow, please contact Dr. Kelechi Okoroha, orthopedic elbow specialist treating patients in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Minnesota and beyond.