By Dr. Neelabh, Orthopaedics
The bicep is a muscle that is located on the front portion of the upper arm. The muscle is attached to the bones of the shoulder and the elbows by tendons (fibrous tissue cords). A tear in the bicep actually refers to the tear in the bicep tendon. There is one tendon that attaches the bicep to the elbow and two other tendons that attach the bicep to the shoulder. A bicep tear is not very common; it usually results from a sudden injury, thus causing weakness of the arm. The torn tendon does not heal in itself. While other adjoining muscles allow the normal functioning of the bicep muscle up to an extent, it usually doesn’t facilitate the full range of motion of the arm.
The various causes of bicep tear are:
- Injury: A bicep tear might occur if the elbow is held straight against a heavy load, such as a heavy box. Contrary to popular belief, it does not occur when you are bending the elbow against heavy resistance.
- Age: The chances of a bicep tear go up significantly once you are past your 30’s.
Note: Apart from these causes, smoking and usage of corticosteroid medications also deteriorate the strength of one’s tendons.
The symptoms of a bicep tear are swelling of the area of the biceps, an inability to bend the elbow and mild to tremendous pain.
The treatment depends on the extent of the tear. If the damage is extensive, surgery may be required to restore proper functioning of the bicep muscle. For a minor tear resulting in mild pain, taking pain relieving medications and resting the affected area are all that is required. The doctor may also suggest certain exercises to boost the healing process.