An Overview on Distal Biceps Tears
Elbow injuries are fairly common in athletes and the active population. A distal bicep tear, or distal biceps tendon rupture, can occur to the elbow from a blunt force trauma or excessive loading on the joint. These tears are characterized as either partial or complete. A partial tear does not completely sever the tendon, while a complete tear will sever the tendon into two pieces. In most cases, a distal bicep tear is complete. If you live in the Chicago, Westchester, Oak Brook and Hinsdale, Illinois area and experience a distal biceps tendon rupture, contact elbow specialist Dr. Nikhil Verma immediately to schedule a consultation.
The biceps muscle is responsible for assisting the elbow in bending and the forearm in rotating. Tendons attach the muscles to the bones of the upper arm. There are two groups of tendons associated with the biceps muscle.
- Upper biceps tendon (proximal): Attaches upper portion of the biceps muscle to the shoulder
- Lower biceps tendon (distal): Attaches lower portion of the biceps muscle to the elbow
If a distal bicep tear occurs, many patients will lose strength in the arm and experience a decrease in arm function. The surrounding arm muscles can bend the elbow without the biceps, but they cannot rotate the forearm from palm down to palm up.
Symptoms of a Distal Bicep Tear
Once a patient experiences a distal biceps tendon rupture, pain, swelling, bruising and weakness will appear almost immediately. Many patients will hear a loud “pop” at the time of the tear. A bulge in the upper arm or a gap in the front of the elbow may also be present. Bruising and swelling in the formearm is commonly seen.
Diagnosis of a Distal Biceps Tendon Rupture
At the patient’s consultation, Dr. Verma will discuss the symptoms and perform a physical examination. The examination will include looking for a gap in the tendon and rotating the forearm against resistance to test the supination strength. X-rays and an MRI scan may also be performed to detect any bone damage and determine if the distal bicep tear is partial or complete.