Biceps Tendon Tear

A distal biceps tendon tear refers to a tear or rupture of the tendon that attaches the biceps muscle to the forearm bone (radius) near the elbow joint. The biceps muscle, located in the front of the upper arm, plays a crucial role in forearm flexion and supination (turning the palm upward).

Distal biceps tendon tears typically occur as a result of a forceful contraction of the biceps muscle or a sudden, excessive load placed on the tendon. This can happen during activities that involve heavy lifting, rapid forceful movements, or direct trauma to the forearm. Men between the ages of 30 and 50 are more commonly affected by distal biceps tendon tears.

The tear can be classified as either partial or complete:

  1. Partial Tear: A partial tear refers to damage to a portion of the tendon. This may cause pain, weakness, and limited range of motion in the affected arm. However, the tendon is still partially intact.
  2. Complete Tear: A complete tear indicates a full rupture of the tendon, where the tendon is completely separated from its attachment to the radius bone. This type of tear typically causes sudden, sharp pain in the front of the elbow and forearm, bruising, swelling, and a visible deformity, often described as a “Popeye deformity” due to the retracted biceps muscle.
biceps tendon

Biceps Tendon

The distal biceps tendon attached to your radial bone at the elbow and is crucial for elbow bending and urning the palm upward.

biceps tendon tear

Biceps Tendon Tear

Tearing of the biceps tendon can lead to bruising, swelling and loss of elbow strength

biceps tendon repair

Biceps Tendon Repair

Repair of a biceps tendon tear involves re-attaching the tendon back to its original footprint using a specialised titanium button


Treatment for a distal biceps tendon tear depends on various factors, including your age, activity level, the degree of tear, and the time since the injury. Non-surgical treatment may be considered if you have little symptoms, but may result in elbow weakness. Surgical repair is often recommended for most cases of distal biceps tendon tears, particularly if you are physically active or require full strength and function of the affected arm. Surgery aims to reattach the torn tendon to its original insertion point on the radius bone. Delaying surgery beyond six weeks may affect the outcomes and increase the complexity of the procedure.

Get Expert Help

If you have injured your elbow, it is important to get your elbow evaluated and to perform appropriate diagnostic tests. Dr. Arthur Turow will provide expert assessment of your injury and recommend a tailored treatment for your specific injury to help you achieve the best outcome.

Please use above information as a guide only. More detailed information specific to your condition and your recovery will be given in your consultation with Dr. Arthur Turow, who will also provide additional resources to supplement your discussion. For more information, please contact the rooms of Dr. Arthur Turow on (08) 8236 4179.