Anatomy 101: The Distal Biceps

The distal biceps muscle is located in the front of your arm (see image above). This muscle helps you to bend your elbow and twist your forearm. Unfortunately, the biceps is prone to injury, especially the biceps tendon, which connects the bicep muscle to the radius bone in your forearm. This tendon can weaken over time, which is called tendonosis. If you have tendonosis of the biceps tendon, you may feel a dull or sharp pain just past the elbow in the forearm. There’s also a chance that you will feel no pain.

Tendonosis can sometimes lead to a tear or rupture in the tendon. Tears or ruptures can happen when you are lifting something heavy such as furniture or weights.

Some signs that you may have torn or ruptured your biceps tendon include:

  • A popping feeling at the time of the rupture or tear
  • Pain in the elbow area
  • Weakness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Warmth in the elbow area
  • Muscle spasms

It’s also possible that a biceps tendon tear or rupture can provide relief from pain that was present before.

Recovery from a tear or rupture

After you’ve torn or ruptured your biceps tendon, the elbow will continue to work, relying on muscles other than the biceps tendon, but you should seek treatment immediately. If the biceps tendon is torn completely, it will not heal on its own. If you need surgery, you will have the best results the sooner you have surgery. If too much time passes without treatment, you may have permanent weakness in your arm.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, visit a hand surgeon immediately, as hand surgeons typically treat the fingertips to the shoulder. Your surgeon will discuss the best treatment options for you, which may or may not include surgery.

Learn more about distal biceps tendon injuries and other upper extremity conditions and injuries at HandCare.orgFind a hand surgeon near you.

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