Brief Outline of Biceps Brachii Tendon Rupture

Repetitive strain, particularly due to overlifting, can lead to irritation and microscopic tears in the biceps brachii tendon, which connects the biceps brachii muscle to the shoulder joint at the proximal end and the elbow at the muscle’s distal end. A biceps brachii tendon rupture results from sudden trauma to the biceps brachii tendon causing its detachment from the bone. Injury at the proximal (shoulder) end of the tendon is most common. Biceps brachii tendon ruptures can occur from weight lifting or throwing sports, but are generally uncommon, particularly young athletes.

Shoulder Biceps Rupture Symptoms


Anatomy and physiology

The biceps brachii muscle is located on the front of the upper arm, and operates over three joints. Its function is to allow bending of the arm and to support loads placed on the arm. This muscle has two parts, known as the long head and short head, both connected to bone via the biceps brachii tendon. Rupture of the tendon prevents the muscle from pulling on the bone, thereby restricting movement. In older individuals, it is often the result of degenerative change in the tendon.

Cause of Biceps Brachii Tendon Rupture

Weakness due to tears in the rotator cuff. Throwing activities. Weightlifting.

Signs and symptoms

Bulge in the upper arm. Inability to turn the palm upward or downward. Sudden, sharp pain at the shoulder.

Complications if left unattended

Generally, little functional loss accompanies rupture of a proximal biceps brachii tendon, as two tendinous attachment occur at the shoulder, one compensating the other in most cases. For this reason, surgery is rarely required and complications are rare, though without proper healing, re-tearing and degeneration of the tendon are more likely.


  • Immobilisation for partial tear to the biceps tendon rupture
  • Surgery for full tear

Rehabilitation and prevention

Following rest and recovery of the tendon, flexibility and strengthening exercises should be undertaken to restore full mobility in the shoulder. Avoidance of sudden lifting beyond normal capacity and other sudden violence to the biceps brachii tendon as during throwing sports may help prevent the injury.

Long-term prognosis

Most biceps brachii tendon ruptures resolve themselves without medical intervention if given proper time for healing. In younger athletes with demanding training schedules, surgery may be contemplated to repair the rupture. Tears and ruptures to the distal end of the biceps brachii tendon at the elbow are more rare, but can be more severe, requiring surgery. However, in both cases the prospects for full recovery are excellent.

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