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Biceps tendon tear in shoulder

The biceps runs from the shoulder to the elbow and allows for shoulder and elbow flexion (flex biceps). The biceps tendons anchor the main muscle bulk of the biceps to its bony attachments. This can either tear completely called a complete tear or only tear partially, called a partial tear. Depending on the location of the tear and the severity (completeness) of the tear, a biceps tendon tear can be treated by a rehabilitation expert such as a chiropractor or physiotherapist. At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) we are a muscle and joint rehabilitation centre of excellence.

It is important to consider two things when looking at biceps.

Complete tears usually start with repetitive micro-injuries to the tendon that progress until a heavy object is lifted creating a complete tear.
Usually only the long head of the bicep will tear, it is very unlikely that the short head will tear, statistically speaking. This can tear the cartilage of the shoulder joint and this must me examined. Because the short head still is intact people can still use their bicep.

Symptoms of biceps tear in the shoulder

Since the bicep tendon can have a partial tear or a complete tear.

  • Ongoing shoulder pain, and arm weakness
  • Sudden sharp pain, popping sound when lifting object
  • Bruising following pain
  • Difficulty, weakness or pain when pushing off the ground
  • Muscle deformity, ‘bulge of muscle in the arm’

Causes of bicep tear in the shoulder

This is categorised into two main categories including, repetitive stress or acute injury. Repetitive stress really just means the bicep is used too much (over use) and it breaks down and eventually tears. This is common as we age and use the arms more and more, especially in the sporting sense. An acute injury to the bicep may be caused by a fall, gym injury lifting weights or a sporting accident.

Treatment of biceps tear in the shoulder

Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) is a chiropractic and physiotherapy centre of excellence. Most people will recover from a biceps tear with no to minimal function loss and no surgery required. If there is a deformity some people will not care, however for strength loss and complete tears early surgery may be suggested. The treatments at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) from our chiropractors and physiotherapists for any muscle tear will be focused at reducing pain and restoring function. This will be done through hands on treatments and treatments designed to reduce inflammation and pain and early strengthening exercises. Active strategies that aim to restore the qualities of the biceps muscle tear are a large focus and these include strength, endurance, power and functional task execution.

Please read these articles on common shoulder problems for greater understanding


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