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Common conditions

Biceps Tendons Injury at the Elbow

What is Biceps Tendons Injury at the Elbow?

Biceps tendonitis and complete biceps rupture are the two types of injuries. They likely both part of the same disorder. The tendon insertion on the radius has a poor blood supply and therefore, may become injured through use or with age.

Symptoms & Causes

Inflammation, due to the body’s attempts at healing this tendon, can cause pain. Conversely, a frank rupture can occur. Sometimes there is a presenting period of pain in the anterior elbow before the tendon pops, but most of the time, it is just a sudden tear of the tendon.

Affected Populations

Typically, weekend warriors get biceps ruptures. They are almost always male between the ages of 35-60. Steroids can also be implicated. Biceps tendonitis is less common or at least less diagnosed. These can be in men and women and present with anterior elbow pain, pain with lifting, and pain with gripping. There may or may not be an inciting injury.


If it is early, biceps tendonitis can be treated with supervised physical therapy. More than 50% of the time, patients will fail physical therapy and require operative treatment. Surgical treatment consists of removing the remaining biceps tendon from the radius bone and reattaching it as if it were acutely torn. The rehabilitation is the same after surgical treatment as an acute rupture. The outcome of surgical treatment is excellent in most cases. Biceps ruptures are usually treated surgically. Non-surgical evaluations of patients show that not repairing a biceps tendon at the elbow can result in significant weakness. With the advent of new surgical techniques and hardware, surgeons can reattach the biceps with reproducible results.

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