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Biceps Tendon Surgery - Shoulder Pain - DFW, Dallas, TX

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About Biceps Tendon Repair

The biceps muscle is located in the front of the upper arm and is attached to the bones in both the shoulder and the elbow by the biceps tendons. The biceps muscle and the surrounding tendons are what allows us to rotate our arm and bend the elbow. Sports injuries, overuse of the muscle, weight training, and more can weaken these tendons, causing a biceps tendon tear or rupture. A tear can occur at the shoulder or at the elbow, and in many cases the injury will require surgery in order to repair the torn or ruptured tendon.

Most patients will realize a serious injury has occurred in either area because a "pop" can be heard, followed by immediate swelling, bruising, weakness, and intense pain. When the biceps tendon tears, a bulge can be seen through the skin known as a "Popeye muscle". This bulge is due to the fact that the tendon is no longer holding the muscle in place properly. Arthroscopic surgery, performed by Dallas orthopedic shoulder surgeon, Dr. Brody Flanagin, can repair the biceps tendon so that it heals properly and effectively.

Types of Tears

A biceps tendon tear can be a partial tear or a complete rupture, and it will either affect the biceps tendon at the shoulder or the biceps tendon at the elbow.

To get a better understanding when surgery is needed, it helps to understand the dynamics regarding the biceps tendon as it pertains to the shoulder and the elbow. Two tendons attach the biceps muscle to the shoulder joint. The long head tendon attaches the biceps muscle to the top of the shoulder socket, and the short head attaches it to the shoulder blade. Tears of the short head tendon are rare. However, because there are two tendons attaching the biceps muscle, if only one of them tears, surgery may not be needed.

While the biceps muscle is attached to the shoulder with two tendons, it is attached to the elbow with only one. This is known as a distal biceps tendon, and when this tendon tears, it tends to rupture completely, separating it from the bone. This injury usually requires surgery to repair and reattach the torn tendon.

Surgical Technique

A biceps tendon tear can be diagnosed based on the symptoms of the patient and a full medical exam. If you are able to bend your arm and tighten the biceps muscle, this may indicate a partial tear, which can usually be treated with nonsurgical measures. However, an X-ray or an MRI may be ordered to determine if the tear is more complex. An MRI scan is usually the best way to determine if the tear is complete.

In some patients, conservative treatment will not be effective, especially in those who want the full use and strength of their arm returned, such as athletes, manual laborers, and active individuals. Surgery to reattach the torn or rupture tendon back to the bone can help restore strength and function to the injured arm. There are several surgical approaches that can be considered, but the most common is arthroscopic surgery. It is more common to use surgery for a distal biceps tendon tear for the elbow. During this procedure, the tendon is reattached to the forearm bone. This is done using small metal implants that are drilled into the bone so that the tendon can be attached to it using surgical sutures. This method usually results in good outcomes and retears of the tendon after surgery are rare.

Distal Biceps Reconstruction

Some patients will suffer complex ruptures where the tendon no longer exists. In this situation, a graft can be used to restore and rebuild the missing tendon. Biceps tendon reconstruction uses a graft from cadaver tissue or tissue from another part of the patient's body, such as the hamstring. During surgery, the new tendon is built to match the anatomical footprint of where the original tissue resided. While this is a complex procedure that requires precise surgical training, the results are still excellent for patients, restoring function, movement, and strength to the arm.

After Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery for a torn biceps tendon or biceps tendonitis generally have outstanding and predicable outcomes. Following physical therapy, patients who are proactive and diligent with their rehab often make a complete recovery. Most patients regain range of motion in just a matter of a few short weeks. The surgical methods used today to repair this tendon can result in results that last years.

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If you have experienced a biceps tendon injury and are not sure how to best treat the condition, we invite you to call our orthopedic practice for a full assessment. Our team of medical assistants will work with our surgeon to properly diagnose and treat your injury. While surgery for a distal biceps tear does take time to heal properly, the outcomes are often very positive. Call today and allow us to help you regain motion, strength, and function to your arm so that you can return to your active lifestyle, injury free.

*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.