A distal biceps tear can cause a painful lump at the top of your arm when the muscle detaches from your elbow joint. If you have symptoms of a distal biceps tear, expert hand and upper extremity surgeon Luke Nicholson, MD, can help. Dr. Nicholson has offices in Beverly Hills and at the Keck Medical Center in Downtown Los Angeles, California, where he delivers nonsurgical and minimally invasive surgical treatments for patients with distal biceps tears. For advanced solutions to elbow and biceps pain, call Luke Nicholson MD or schedule a consultation using the online booking form today.
You have one tendon attaching your biceps muscle to your shoulder and another that attaches the muscle to your elbow. The one on your elbow is the distal biceps tendon, which connects to the radial tuberosity (a small lump on the radius bone near your elbow joint).
A distal biceps tear occurs when the tendon detaches from your elbow and may be partial or complete:
Partial tears occur when there's some damage to the soft tissues, but the tendon remains attached to the bone.
A complete tear is one where the tendon detaches entirely from the bone.
Your other arm muscles can take over the job of your injured biceps tendon. As a result, you can use your arm, often with a reasonable degree of function. However, without surgery, you're likely to lose 60%-70% of the strength in your arm, particularly when twisting your forearm.
Distal biceps tears are far more common in men than women. The primary cause is an acute injury in which your elbow straightens while under pressure.
If you're older and not that active, or if your injury isn't affecting your dominant arm, nonsurgical treatments may be acceptable. These options aim to relieve your pain and improve arm function.
Resting the arm and avoiding overhead activities or heavy lifting can reduce pain and swelling. Dr. Nicholson may recommend you wear a sling initially to support the arm while it begins healing.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen also relieve pain and swelling, and you need to undergo a course of physical therapy once the worst of the pain subsides.
Wherever possible, Dr. Nicholson needs to perform distal biceps tear surgery within the first few weeks of your injury before the muscle and tendons start to shorten and develop scars.
One option is to attach the biceps tendon by stitching it back in place using holes Dr. Nicholson drills in your radius (forearm) bone. Or he can secure the tendon back onto the bone with the help of small metal implants called suture anchors.
If you tear your distal biceps tendon, call the office of Luke Nicholson MD to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online today.