Types of Biceps Tendon Ruptures
The biceps tendon connects the biceps muscle to the bone. The biceps helps bend the elbow joint and turn the wrist, and also helps to stabilize the shoulder joint. There are two types of biceps tendon ruptures: a proximal biceps tendon rupture occurs in the tendon at the shoulder joint, and a distal biceps tendon rupture occurs around the elbow joint. A proximal rupture causes minimal symptoms, and is most common patients over 60. A distal rupture is associated with heavy lifting or sports, and tends to be most common in middle-aged men.
Treating Biceps Tendon Ruptures
Proximal biceps tendon ruptures can often be treated with anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. However, if pain is still present, surgery may be required to attach the biceps tendon to the humerus in a procedure known as a biceps tenodesis.
Distal biceps tendon ruptures typically require surgery to restore range of motion to the elbow by reattaching the tendon to the radius bone. However, based on the age of the patient and his or her desired activity level, surgery may not be necessary. Without surgery, limited function is likely – but if the injury is in a non-dominant side, and the patient is an older adult or is not an active individual, this may be an acceptable outcome.
For both distal and proximal bicep tendon repairs are typically performed as an outpatient surgery. Physical therapy begins after surgery and can last 12-16 weeks; most patients are usually able to return to normal activity after surgery and physical therapy.