Biceps Tendon Subluxation

What is Biceps Tendon Subluxation

Biceps tendon subluxation is an injury to the shoulder area. The biceps muscle is located on the front side of the upper arm. When this muscle contracts, it causes the forearm to bend at the elbow joint. Biceps muscle contraction also assists in raising the arm at the shoulder joint.

The place on a muscle where it attaches to a bone is called a tendon. Biceps muscles have three tendons. One tendon attaches at the elbow, and the other two tendons attach at the shoulder.

One of the tendons that attaches at the shoulder runs through a groove in the bone before it attaches at the shoulder. Biceps tendon subluxation occurs when the tendon moves out of this groove during arm movement. This injury often occurs along with other problems in the shoulder.

What are the causes?

Biceps tendon subluxation can happen after an injury to the group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint (rotator cuff).Damage to the rotator cuff is often caused by strenuous or repetitive movements of the shoulder joint when the arm is extended away from the body and raised overhead. It can also occur with sudden, forceful movements in those directions.

What increases the risk?

This injury is more likely to occur in:

  • People who participate in contact sports, throwing sports, weight lifting, and bodybuilding.
  • People who perform heavy labor, especially involving lifting and overhead work.
  • People who have poor strength and flexibility.
  • People who do not warm up properly before practice or play.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of this injury include:

  • A crackling, clicking, or popping sound that happens when the arm is moved away from the body and the shoulder is rotated outward. You may or may not have pain during this movement.
  • Pain and tenderness in the front of the shoulder.
  • Pain that increases with shoulder and elbow motion, such as bending the elbow and turning your palm upward against resistance.

How is this diagnosed?

This injury can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those of many other upper arm and shoulder problems. The injury may be diagnosed based on:

  • Your symptoms and medical history. Your health care provider will ask for details about your injury and ask about activities that make your symptoms worse.
  • A physical exam.
  • Imaging tests such as:
    • X-rays.
    • CT scan.
    • Ultrasound.

How is this treated?

Initial treatment for this injury may include:

  • Medicines to control pain.
  • Icing the injured area to reduce swelling (inflammation).

You may also need to work with a physical therapist to strengthen and stabilize the injured area.

In severe cases, surgery may be needed to put the biceps tendon back into the proper position and to prevent the injury from happening again. If you have other injuries to your shoulder, those may be repaired during surgery as well.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Do notdrive or operate heavy machinery while taking prescription pain medicine.
  • If directed, apply ice to the injured area:
    • Put ice in a plastic bag.
    • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.
    • Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, 2–3 times per day.
  • Return to your normal activities as told by your health care provider. Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you.
  • Begin exercising the injured area as told by your health care provider or physical therapist.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your symptoms get worse or they do not improve with your treatment plan.
  • You have new or unexplained symptoms, such as pain, tingling, or numbness in or near the injured area.

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