The bicep muscle is located on the front aspect of the upper arm and is divided into 2 sections. The upper origin of this muscle has 2 attachment sights in the shoulder, those being the "long head and the "short head". The lower insertion site is located at the elbow/forearm. Anatomically, the upper end of the bicep is referred to as the proximal bicep tendon the lower end is called the distal biceps tendon.
The occurrence of distal biceps tendon rupture is very low and accounts for 5% or less of all bicep tendon ruptures. Traumatic biceps tendon tear at the elbow is usually the stated mechanism with activities such as weight lifting, or reflexively reaching and attempting to catch a heavy falling object. A biceps tendon tear at the elbow is almost exclusively seen in males and there tends to be some predisposition to rupture such as degenerative changes in the tendon.
If this tendon has sustained complete rupture, elbow surgery is almost always necessary to regain functional strength in the elbow and forearm with activities such as lifting and twisting (supination). There will also be expected residual weakness and loss of endurance at these joints especially with repetitive use.
A distal biceps tendon rupture usually results immediately after a forceful injury, one will experience sudden, significant pain, and possibly hear or sense a "pop" or "snap" in the elbow. With soft tissue tearing or trauma comes subsequent swelling and eventual bruising or discoloration in the area. As that subsides, you may notice some abnormal shape of the muscle where it has retracted due to the tear.
It has been shown that this type of injury should be repaired within the first 3 weeks to achieve optimal results. Elbow surgery may either be in the form of a direct repair or may require a reconstructive procedure due to the location and size of the tear as well as the health of the tissue.
Elbow surgery is usually recommended for those patients in Cary, Raleigh, Apex Garner and the Triangle with a large or complete biceps tendon tear at the elbow that also need to return to a more active or heavier lifting lifestyle.
For more information on how the distal biceps tendon rupture specialists at Cary Orthopaedics can help you, contact us today at 919-467-4992 for an appointment!
Cary Orthopaedics serves patients from Raleigh, Garner, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Clayton, Chapel Hill, and Pittsboro, NC