Comments Off on Biceps Tendon Rupture: a Measure of the Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Patients with long term shoulder pain will at certain times develop a sudden worsening of this long term pain that is perceived to be without cause. Upon further investigation by a physician with the use of an MRI, it is possible to diagnose a ruptured bicep tendon near to where the initial pain was being experienced.

This new condition so close to the location of the earlier shoulder pain, is not an uncommon situation. It is not uncommon when someone has had years of shoulder pain to find a rupture of their biceps tendon. This causes great distress amongst patients and is usually the result of years of inflammation spurred on by a condition in the rotator cuff, oftentimes tendonitis. The reason that patients often find themselves the victims of this tendon rupture is because of the natural location of the tendon. The biceps tendon longhead of the biceps tendon inserts deeply into the shoulder joint and attaches fairly close to the primary inflammation of rotator cuff tendonitis. Frequently when the rotator cuff is inflamed the patient will experience a cycle of pain and inflammation which commonly affects the region in the form of collateral damage to the biceps tendon.

Surprisingly, this sharp pain and new condition does not particularly lower the patient’s ability to use their arm. This is because of the make up of the tendon. The superior aspect of the bicep where it attaches to the upper arm actually attaches twice, at separate points. The longhead of the biceps tendon accounts for anchoring the smaller portion of the muscle. This is often not a huge loss as the surrounding condition has oftentimes already weakened the muscle to a point where the patient will not realize its loss. Therefore, the patient may have this loss of the tendon, but the other superior attachment of the biceps tendon will basically be able to give them adequate strength and function.

However, the rupture of the biceps tendon is a way to assess the severity of the rotator cuff condition. If there is a rupture, it typically means they have a fairly severe rotator cuff problem. Luckily, it does not necessarily mean that surgery is the required treatment. We can expect that some people will get better with physical therapy. Certainly some of these people will end up with rotator cuff reconstruction, however, the patient should know that most of the time; the biceps tendon is not reattached because it frankly doesn’t need to be.

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