Treatment Options for Biceps Tendon Rupture

Treatment Options for Biceps Tendon Rupture

You’ve been diagnosed with a biceps tendon rupture — now what? Treatment options for this condition depend on how severe the rupture is and what degree of function you hope to recover.

You probably can still function with a biceps tendon rupture and experience pain or weakness when moving your shoulder or arm in certain ways. 

At Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, we evaluate your biceps tendon and help with noninvasive and surgical solutions to relieve your symptoms and restore function. 

Factors that affect treatment

Our orthopedic team at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists customizes your treatment for a biceps tendon rupture. Your plan depends on whether the tear was partial or complete and where it was located — at the shoulder or at the elbow.

If you have a partial tear, your tendon is still intact but may be frayed and inflamed. If you experience a complete tear, the tendon is severed into two distinct pieces. 

Your treatment also depends on your desired outcome. Of course, you want to eliminate pain and restore function, but function means different things depending on your activity level. 

Athletes may require full strength and range of motion while the average person might be OK with modifying some activities to help with symptom resolution and healing. 

Noninvasive treatments for the biceps tendon

If you have a mild biceps tendon tear, it may resolve over time with rest and movement modifications. You may also heal adequately without surgery if your rupture is localized and didn’t result in damage to your rotator cuff or other structures in the shoulder. 

If your biceps tendon rupture was caused by an accident and you heard a pop, icing several times a day can keep down swelling. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can ease pain and swelling, too. Rest, placing your arm in a sling, and physical therapy can restore movement and strength. 

Surgical treatment for the biceps tendon

We may recommend surgery if you’re an athlete or manual laborer who requires complete recovery of strength. If you have severe pain that doesn’t subside with noninvasive treatments, surgery is also an option. 

We often do biceps tendon repair surgery as a minimally invasive procedure, so incisions are small and recovery is relatively quick. 

The surgery involves sewing the ruptured tendon back into the bone and placing a small device to keep it anchored. We perform biceps tendon repair on an outpatient basis, so you go home the same day once you come out of the general anesthesia and your vital signs are normal. 

We recommend rehabilitation and physical therapy start shortly after your surgery. These flexibility and strength exercises help improve your range of motion and increase the chance that you’ll regain full function of your shoulder and elbow. 

Expect it to take 3-4 months for complete recovery and restoration of all activity. Reinjury of the tendon is unlikely, though. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with a ruptured biceps tendon, contact us at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists to learn more about your treatment options. Call our Bethesda or Germantown, Maryland, office or set up an appointment here.

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