What Are the Symptoms of a Torn Bicep Muscle?

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According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms of a torn biceps muscle include severe pain at the elbow or shoulder, bruising on the upper arm, weakness in the elbow or shoulder, a change in the shape of the front of the arm and difficulty turning the arm from a palm-up to palm-down position. There are two types of biceps tears, and each causes different symptoms.

Biceps tears can occur at the shoulder or at the elbow, explains the Cleveland Clinic. While surgery is often needed to fix a torn biceps tendon, many people are able to function normally without surgery. Nonsurgical treatments used to alleviate torn biceps symptoms are the same treatments used to treat biceps tendinitis, including rest, the use of cold packs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. Of the two types of biceps tears, tears at the elbow more often require surgery.

For patients who want a return of full strength, surgery is the best option, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Surgery to re-attach the biceps tendon at the shoulder is very safe, and a return of full strength is likely. Several months of flexibility and strength training are required to rehabilitate the shoulder after surgery.

The Cleveland Clinic explains that surgery to repair a torn biceps at the elbow must be performed quickly after the injury. Within as little as two to three weeks, the distal tendon and muscle may scar, making surgery impossible.