Bicep tear - Muscular Injuries

A bicep tear occurs when the tendons connecting the bicep muscle to the bones in the elbow and shoulder become damaged; the tear may be partial or complete.

Causes of a bicep tear

In some cases, the tendon will tear progressively and will begin with being frayed; in other cases the bicep will be torn acutely. The most common causes of bicep tears are overuse injuries and trauma; this includes accidents, falling and high speed impact. Trauma will usually result in an acute tear; the most common example of this is falling onto a hand that is stretched out on the ground. Progressive tears are usually a result of repeated actions which place pressure on the muscle; these are common in sports such as tennis and swimming. Other factors may also make people more prone to muscular injuries; these include smoking, participating in activities which put the bicep under significant pressure and age (older people are more likely to have worn tendons).

Effects of a bicep tear

In addition to localised pain and a restricted range of movement in the affected muscle, a patient may also experience pain in the lower arms and shoulders. Often damage to the tendons attached to the bicep muscle will also cause damage to the rotator cuff tendons.

Symptoms of a bicep tear

Pain is the most obvious symptom of a bicep tear; this will be most severe in the muscle but may stretch to the shoulders and elbows. In some cases a popping noise may be heard when the injury occurs and the muscle may bulge (this is commonly known as the Popeye muscle). The area may also become bruised and swollen.

Treating a bicep tear

Treatment depends on the severity of the injury; in many cases the muscle will heal over the course of time without any invasive treatment. Ice packs and anti-inflammatory medication will help to ease pain and reduce swelling; the affected muscle should also be rested. If the injury is more severe it may require surgery; this is usually a last resort but is a popular option for elite athlete who rely on a complete recovery. Once the healing process in underway, physiotherapy will help to gradually strengthen the area and improve the range of movement around the muscle. Physiotherapy will also condition the muscles in order to make them more resistant to injury in the future.

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