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What is the Long Head of the Biceps Tendon?

Your biceps muscle has two heads, a long head, and a short head, which are both attached to the shoulder. The long head of the biceps tendon is a tough band of connective fibrous tissue that attaches the long head of the biceps to the top of the shoulder socket.

Causes of Long Head Biceps Tendon Rupture

Overuse and injury of the biceps muscle during weightlifting or any repetitive physical activity causes fraying and eventual long head biceps tendon rupture. It can also occur due to falling on an outstretched arm.

Risks Factors for Long Head Biceps Tendon Rupture

The risk factors for long head biceps tendon rupture include:

  • Old age
  • Repetitive overhead activities
  • Smoking
  • Corticosteroid medication use

Types of Long Head Biceps Tendon Rupture

Tears of the long head of the biceps tendon may be either:

  • Partial tears
  • Complete tears

Symptoms of Long Head Biceps Tendon Rupture

The symptoms that may occur with the tendon rupture include:

  • A popping sound
  • A snapping sensation
  • Pain with overhead activity
  • Weakness in the shoulder
  • Bruising in the upper arm

Diagnosis of Long Head Biceps Tendon Rupture

Your doctor diagnoses a biceps tendon rupture after observing your symptoms and taking a medical history. A physical exam is performed where your arm may be moved in different positions to see which movements elicit pain or weakness. Imaging studies such as X-rays may be ordered to assess for bone deformities such as bone spurs, which may have caused the tear, or an MRI scan to determine if the tear is partial or complete.

Treatment of Long Head Biceps Tendon Rupture

Nonsurgical treatment includes:

Rest: A sling is used to rest the shoulder and you are advised to avoid overhead activities and heavy lifting until healed.

Ice: Applying ice packs for 20 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times a day, helps reduce swelling.

Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines help reduce pain and swelling.

Physiotherapy: Strengthening and flexibility exercises help restore strength and mobility to the shoulder joint.

Surgery may be necessary if your symptoms are not relieved by conservative measures and if you are an athlete and require full restoration of strength. Your surgeon makes an incision near your shoulder where the tendon is torn. The torn end of the tendon is cleaned, and the bone is prepared by creating drill holes. Sutures are woven through the holes, and the tendon to secure it back to the bone and hold it in place. The incision is then closed and a dressing applied.

  • NHS
  • The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
British Elbow & Shoulder Society
  • University of Warwick
  • Swor and D

Hospitals Attended

  • Stratford Hospital

    South Warwickshire
    NHS Foundation Trust
    Arden St, Stratford-upon-Avon,
    CV37 6NX
    Driving Directions

    Ext 4798
  • Nuffield Health
    Warwickshire Hospital

    The Chase, Old Milverton Lane
    Leamington Spa
    CV32 6RW
    Driving Directions

  • Warwick Hospital

    South Warwickshire
    NHS Foundation Trust
    Lakin Road, Warwick,
    CV34 5BW
    Driving Directions

    Ext 4798
  • The Grafton Suite,
    Building One

    Stratford Hospital, Arden Street
    CV37 6NX
    Driving Directions

  • South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust
  • Nuffield Health
The Grafton Suite - South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust