You rely on your biceps tendon in order to enjoy complete functionality of your arm, as it allows rotation of your forearm and bending of your elbow and helps maintain the position of your shoulder through its connection to the shoulder joint and forearm via a series of tendons. Biceps tendon injuries at your shoulder can result through different causes, including repeated overuse, over-lifting, and acute trauma (such as falling on your outstretched arm), and can occur over time through accumulated injuries or due to a sudden, forceful event. The tendon tear can also be complete, severing the tendon in two, or partial. Those suffering from damaged biceps often experience pain and instability throughout their entire arm, including in the elbow and shoulder areas, as well as increased cramping and muscle bruising and bulging.

Those with damaged bicep tendons may be initially encouraged to pursue non-surgical remedies, including ice, rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medicines. While any pain will diminish gradually, arm deformity and instability will continue if not repaired. Should those non-surgical steps not be sufficient to quell pain and other symptoms of the impaired biceps or should the patient, based on his or her age and activity level (such as those who perform manual work and athletes), desire to rectify these persistent effects of bicep shoulder injuries, arthroscopic surgery will be recommended. During this procedure, minor incisions are created to provide openings for a fiber optic camera to preview the damaged area, after which the torn tendon, if sufficient, is reattached to the bone. Generally, the site of the injury is not where the surgery is performed.

Did You Know? While bicep tendon tears near the shoulder can occur in people of any age, several factors increase the likelihood for this type of injury. These factors include age, smoking, excessive recreational or occupational weight-lifting, corticosteroid medications, and athletics that require repetitive overhead activities.

After the surgery, your arm will initially be in a sling, and post-surgery rehabilitation, including regular exercise and physical therapy, should be undertaken soon after the procedure under your doctor’s orders. These exercises will test your shoulder flexibility and strength and help you become comfortable with using your total range of motion again. Generally, full mobility and stability of the biceps tendon are eventually regained after the completion of the recovery process.