The distal biceps tendon helps us turn our palms up and flex, or bend our elbows. It is the cord-like structure that you feel in the crease of the elbow when it is flexed (bent) and the palm of your hand is turned up. The word “distal” essentially means the lower end of a tendon, muscle or bone and “proximal” means the upper end.
What Happens When Your Bicep Tears
A distal biceps rupture (tear), may occur when someone tries to lift something heavy. There is typically significant pain and a popping or tearing sensation in the elbow and forearm. In the coming hours and days the arm will swell and bruise. Patients will notice pain and weakness when trying to bend the elbow or carry something, especially with the palm facing up. If you suspect this has happened to you, then you should be evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon within a few days.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
At your appointment the surgeon will examine your arm. You may have an x-ray of your elbow. In some cases the surgeon may order an MRI to confirm that you have indeed torn this tendon and to evaluate the extent of the injury. Your surgeon will discuss with you what they think is the best way to manage your injury. In most cases, surgery will be recommended but sometimes these injuries are best managed without. With or without surgery, it will take between 3 to 6 months to recover.