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Biceps Tendon Tear at the Elbow

A bicep tendon tear occurs at the elbow when the Distal Bicep Tendon, which links the bicep to the elbow, separates from the elbow joint either partially or completely.  It is often a sudden injury that produces a “popping” sensation as the tendon ruptures. This is commonly accompanied by pain, bruising and swelling in the crease of the elbow.

Causes

The bicep muscle is located in the front of your upper arm. It is attached to the bones of the shoulder and elbow by tendons — strong cords of fibrous tissue that link muscle and bone. Whilst tears in the Distal Bicep Tendon (the tendon that links the bicep to the elbow) are uncommon, they mostly occur when the elbow is forced straight against resistance. A tear in the Distal Bicep Tendon is generally quite sudden and involves either a partial tear (damage to the soft tissue) or a complete tear (the tendon breaks completely away from the bone).

Symptoms

Typically a sudden injury, a Distal Bicep Tendon rupture commonly produces a “popping” sensation in the elbow. This is generally accompanied by a sharp pain that radiates from the crease of the elbow. A bicep tendon tear at the elbow can also produce swelling and bruising around the elbow and forearm. Another common symptom of this injury is a bulge in the upper part of the arm. This is due to the shortened bicep muscles recoiling into a ball following a tear in the tendon. Weakness in the elbow and issues rotating the forearm can also indicate a bicep tendon tear at the elbow.

Treatment

For a patient to regain the full function and strength of their arm following a Distal Bicep Tendon tear, surgery is the only option. There are several different types of produces that can be performed but all involve the reattachment of the tendon to the forearm bone. As the Distal Bicep Tendon and biceps quickly start to scar and shorten, surgery must be performed 2-3 weeks after the injury first occurs to ensure the arm regains its full motion. The tendon will then take around 3 months to heal.

For those who are older, less active, or are happy to tolerate the injury if it is in their less dominant arm, non-surgical treatments may be considered. Whilst treatments of this kind cannot fully restore the function of the arm they can relieve pain an improve motion.

Contact us

To ask a question, make an enquiry or book an appointment, contact our specialist team on 0207 078 3867 or elbowspecialists@hje.org.uk, the team are available between Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and on Saturday from 9.00am to 3.00pm. Our elbow team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs.

If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use. Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.

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Elbow Clinic

A specialist group of consultants forms our London-based Elbow Unit. Our expert team is dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and research of elbow injuries and conditions.

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Patient information

Our Hospital is renowned for providing exemplary levels of care across more than 90 services. From orthopaedics, to urology, our private GP practice and Urgent Care Clinic, our services are led by some of London’s leading Consultants. For more information, and to find a service suitable for your care, find out more about the services that we offer.

Make an enquiry

If you have any questions relating to treatment options or pricing information, get in touch with us by filling out one of our contact boxes or giving us a call on 0207 078 3867.

Our Appointments Team have a dedicated and caring approach to finding you the earliest appointment possible with the best specialist.

If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. You can simply refer yourself* and book an appointment.

If you have health insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa Health, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation before any treatment, and in most cases you will also require a referral letter from your GP.

If you are not registered with a GP, we have an in-house private GP practice you can use. Alternatively, we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstances.

*Please note – for investigations such as X-rays and MRIs, a referral will be required. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

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