What is a Distal Biceps Tendon Tear?

The main muscle on the front of the arm is the biceps. The biceps is involved in bending the elbow and rotating the forearm. The biceps muscle attaches to the forearm bone (radius) through a tendon, which acts like a rope at the end of the muscle. A distal biceps tendon tear occurs when the tendon detaches from the forearm bone. Because the biceps is responsible for strength and turning the forearm, biceps tendon tears result in pain and arm weakness. Distal biceps tendon tears are almost always caused by a sudden injury to the elbow. This can happen when lifting objects that are too heavy, resulting in the elbow being forced straight when the bicep is under tension. This tears the biceps muscle and tendon from the bone.

The following symptoms may present:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • A noticeable bulge in the upper arm

Tears are categorized as partial or complete.

How is a Distal Biceps Tendon Tear Treated?

Partial tears may successfully heal using nonsurgical treatment options. Complete tears generally require surgical intervention. During a tendon repair procedure, Dr. Donnelly attaches the torn tendon to the bone using a special anchor and sutures.