For many people, pain from a long head of biceps tendon tear resolves over time. Mild arm weakness or arm deformity may not bother some patients, such as older and less active people.
In addition, if you have not damaged a more critical structure, such as the rotator cuff, nonsurgical treatment is a reasonable option.
This can include:
Ice. Apply cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day to keep down swelling. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen reduce pain and swelling.
Rest. Avoid heavy lifting and overhead activities to relieve pain and limit swelling. Your doctor may recommend using a sling for a brief time.
Physical therapy. Flexibility and strengthening exercises will restore movement and strengthen your shoulder.
Surgical treatment for a long head of the biceps tendon tear is rarely needed. However, some patients who require complete recovery of strength, such as athletes or manual laborers, may require surgery.
Surgery may also be the right option for those with partial tears whose symptoms are not relieved with nonsurgical treatment.
Procedure. Several new procedures have been developed that repair the tendon with minimal incisions. The goal of the surgery is to re-anchor the torn tendon back to the bone. Your doctor will discuss with you the options that are best for your specific case.
Complications. Complications with this surgery are rare. Re-rupture of the repaired tendon is uncommon.
Rehabilitation. After surgery, your shoulder may be immobilized temporarily with a sling.
Your Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic orthopedic physician will soon start you on therapeutic exercises. Flexibility exercises will improve range of motion in your shoulder. Exercises to strengthen your shoulder will gradually be added to your rehabilitation plan.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Although it is a slow process, your commitment to physical therapy is the most important factor in returning to all the activities you enjoy.
Surgical Outcome. Successful surgery can correct muscle deformity and return your arm’s strength and function to nearly normal.