What Causes Biceps Injuries?

The biceps muscle plays a significant role in mobility enabling elbow bending and arm rotation. Tendons attach the biceps to the shoulder and elbow, with the two superior tendons attaching to the shoulder being susceptible to inflammation and pain due to their connection mechanics. 

Overuse and repetitive movements common in sports like tennis, baseball, golf, or swimming can gradually wear down the tendons leading to muscle strain or tear. Biceps injuries can also occur following acute trauma such as falling on an outstretched hand, twisting the arm in an unfamiliar way, sports collisions, or auto accidents.

When biceps injuries occur, the most common symptoms are a sudden surge of pain accompanied by a popping sound, and can also include:

  • Shoulder weakness
  • Bruising
  • Limited mobility
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle deformities

Doctors will evaluate a patient's symptoms and medical history before performing a physical examination. In cases such as complete tears, the diagnosis is evident due to the appearance of a sizeable bump indicating the biceps' irregular positioning and lack of support. 

Since biceps injuries are often accompanied by associated conditions like shoulder tendonitis, shoulder impingement, or rotator cuff damage, doctors may order X-ray or MRI imaging to assess its severity and fully rule out other potential causes.  

If damage is minimal, conservative treatments are usually sufficient to alleviate painful symptoms using rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. Other non-surgical treatment options include platelet-rich plasma therapy and physical therapy.