Ruptured Biceps Tendon

Ruptured Biceps Tendon Overview

The biceps is a long muscle that helps flex the arm. One of the biceps tendons inserts on the elbow. A biceps tendon rupture occurs when the tendon is torn from its insertion point. The injury is rare but serious. An appointment with a  Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates’ (CONA) elbow specialist should be made as soon as possible.

Symptoms & Causes

Ruptured bicep tendon symptoms include:

  • An audible pop
  • An arm bulge and gap (the biceps muscles is shortened)
  • Bruising
  • Elbow and forearm weakness
  • Severe pain that usually resides quickly

Lifting heavy objects with the elbow bent is the most common bicep tendon rupture cause. Risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Overuse
  • Steroid use
  • Tobacco use

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options may be able to treat some bicep tendon ruptures. After a thorough evaluation, a CONA elbow specialist may recommend:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Rest and ice

Surgery is a common bicep tendon rupture treatment option. During a bicep tendon repair, a CONA specialist repairs the tendon and attaches it to the elbow bone. After recovery and physical therapy, the tendon is stronger than ever and patients return to normal activities with minimal to no restrictions.


A CONA elbow specialist asks important questions about how the injury occurred and what symptoms presented. A physical examination, which includes bicep strength tests, is performed. Medical imaging studies are usually not needed to make a diagnosis.

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