Distal biceps tendon ruptures occur when the tendon that attaches the biceps muscle to the elbow is torn from its insertion on the radius. The most common cause of a distal biceps rupture is lifting a heavy item with the elbow bent, more common in middle-aged man.
The biceps muscle is a muscle in the front of the arm between the shoulder blade and the elbow. The two heads of the biceps muscle attach on the scapula and join to form a single tendon attachment on the radial tuberosity. The main function of the biceps is to flex and supinate the forearm.
The most common cause of a distal biceps rupture is a sudden injury, such as lifting a heavy object with the elbow bent. Males older than 30, nicotine use, and oral steroid use are risk factors for rupturing the biceps tendon.
It is important to diagnose a distal biceps tendon rupture immediately after injury. You can either see your orthopedic surgeon or visit an orthopedic urgent care. Our Walk-In Anytime Ortho Orthopedic Urgent Care Clinic is a convenient affordable way to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment without having to go through the hassle and costs of a hospital emergency room.
Distal biceps tendon ruptures are diagnosed after thorough discussion and physical exam with an orthopedic specialist. X-rays of the elbow will not show biceps tendon ruptures, but are used to rule out other elbow problems. An elbow MRI can diagnose if a rupture is full or partial.
Surgical repair of the distal biceps tendon is recommended within the first 7-14 days after the injury. This involves making an incision over the distal biceps tendon insertion, finding the torn tendon and reattaching it to the radial tuberosity where it normally inserts. If it has been too long after the initial injury, a tendon graft is sometimes used to attach the biceps muscle to the bone.
Immediately after surgery, the elbow is immobilized with a splint or cast, followed by transition to a special range-of-motion brace. It is recommended to start working with a physical therapist to begin range of motion exercises. At about six weeks the patient can start more active strengthening exercises. Most people have regained full range of motion and strength by 2-3 months after surgery.
**Disclaimer: Treatment recommendations may vary depending on your true diagnosis. Always follow the recommendations of your orthopedic provider.