Proximal Biceps Tendon Tear or Rupture (at Shoulder)

A proximal bicep tendon rupture is when one of the tendons near your shoulder tears but isn’t completely severed whereas a proximal biceps tendon rupture or complete tear is when the tendon is torn and splits into two pieces.

Our biceps is a muscle located on our upper arm and attached to the bone by two tendons near the shoulder and one tendon near the elbow.

For information on the distal biceps tendon, click here.

What causes a Proximal Biceps Tendon Tear?

Proximal biceps tears and ruptures are usually caused from injury or overuse.

Biceps ruptures can happen after a long history of shoulder pain from tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) or problems with shoulder impingement. Overuse can cause tendons to wear over time and can happen naturally as you age which is why most proximal biceps ruptures occur in patients between 40-60 years of age.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Proximal Biceps Tendon Tear?

Symptoms of a bicep tendon rupture at the shoulder include:

  • Sudden sharp pain in the upper arm or shoulder
  • An audible popping sounds or snap may occur
  • Cramping of the bicep
  • Bruising
  • Pain and tenderness at the shoulder and elbow
  • Weakness in the shoulder and elbow
  • A bulge in the upper arm above the elbow may occur

How is a Proximal Biceps Tendon Tear Diagnosed?

Mr Soong Chua and his team will begin with your medical history and a physical examination to assess your pain and range of movement before moving onto imaging tests such as x-rays, ultrasound or an MRI scan to see if the tear is partial or complete.

What are the Treatment Options for a Proximal Biceps Tendon Tear or Rupture?

Mr Soong Chua may suggest different treatments depending on how severe the tear is.

Non-surgical treatment might consist of:

  • Rest
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Activity modifications
  • Physiotherapy to try to regain strength and range of motion

If non-invasive treatment does not achieve the desired level of improvement, Mr Soong Chua and his team will then consider a range of surgical options to repair the bicep tendon or reconnect it to the bone.

Getting a diagnosis and treatment early can help you recover better.