T Nation

Partial Bicep Tear?


I was doing Scott curls last night, when I felt a sharp pain in my left bi. I stopped, iced it, and later on took some ibuprofen, and was pain free the rest of the evening.

Today I'm still pain free as long as the arm is relaxed, but it hurts if I try to flex the bi. I can't fully flex it either, and the top part of the muscle sort hangs down a bit on the inside of the arm.

At the top of the bi, about an inch from the bi/front delt 'tie in', there is a distinct 'bump' in the muscle. Maybe 1/2 centimeter at the deepest, an inch or so long.

There is no discoloration.

Does this sound like a partial tear to you? I had a similar experience with my hamstring years ago, and that was a partial tear.

I've called my doc and have an appointment tomorrow, but is there really anything that can be done, short of rest, in your experience?


Nothing much to do until after the Dr. visit.

Based on you description you have ruptured the bicep tendon at the shoulder. If you can see the buldge/knot in your arm it is more than likely a complete rupture. There is usually no pain or discoloration. STAY POSITIVE and listen to the options the Dr. offers, there are several ways to address your issue.


Thanks. Yeah, I'm definitely NOT going to be stupid about this...


Best Of Luck


Yeah man sounds like a partial tear. A complete tear there would be a ton of bruising and an audible "pop". You would still be able to flex the elbow due to brachioradialis and brachialis being elbow flexors. Best of luck.


The tendon is ok, so that's definitely good news. It is a partial tear, inner bicep.

The tear was deeper than I expected, though. During the initial exam the Doc extended my arm along my side, palm facing forward, placed his finger where the tear is, and did a curl movement with my arm. His finger half disappeared into the muscle belly. Looked really weird.

He actually laughed and said "yeah, it's torn all right!". He's a bit of an eccentric, but he has a good reputation as far as sports injuries are concerned...

The mid part of the bi, where the 'peak' is supposed to be, has actually moved a little bit back towards the top now. That's a good sign, I guess, but the tear is all the more visible now, especially when the arm is extended.

Doc doesn't recommend complete rest (although he said he knows that a lot of other docs would). Part of the therapy is actually getting me on the Elliptical trainer, getting my heart rate, up, and very gently pulling with the injured arm to get a bit of blood flow going.

I was a bit sceptical at first, but it's making more sense to me now.

Doc will be monitoring my progress on a bi-weekly basis. I'm fairly optimistic, hoping for the best.


Those scott curls get people in a lot of trouble esepecially when you extend down too far. I would advise other readers to be very cautious doing them and shoot for at least 8 reps if not higher and do them later in your routine so you cant use as much weight. Ddid the doc say anything about surgery? Is the arm still painful?


This is not always the case. If the tear is in the muscle belly itself, then there is brusing and pain. If the tear happens at the tendon, there is no pain or bruising. I had a complete rupture in Aug. 2009.....no bruise, no pain, could still flex the bicep, etc. The Dr. allowed me to continue to train for the three weeks it took to schedule the surgery, I did everything except direct bicep work.

I have never heard of a procedure to repair the muscle itself if it is torn...anyone else?


A partial tear at the tendon would indeed be painful. A complete tear would now. In terms of repariing the mms itself I am sure it could be done. Its a matter of cosmetics really. You can live with torn bicep. I have treated many people who tore it and did not know it. Older poeple lifting something and felt a pop w pain and hten that is it.



How long before you reovered rom surgery ... and was it successfull ?



About 4 days ago,I had just finished a back workout and proceeded to do a bicep workout. I was doing 50lb dumbell curls on the preacher bench. All of the sudden I felt a pop, so I stopped. Now the entire bicep area is bruised.
I'm waiting to see the ortho doc on Wednesday.


I had an MRI and they want me to talk to a surgeon tomorrow.
This probably happened because I train heavy all the time.

I did a hard back workout which pre-stressed my biceps.


close grip pullups -
40lbs 3 sets of 10

Wide pulldowns
195lbs 6 reps
185 8 reps
180 10 reps

Seated rows
220 8 reps
210 10 reps
200 12 reps

close grip pulldowns
195lbs 6 reps
185 8 reps
180 10 reps


Standing dumbell curls
3 sets of 10

Dumbell Preacher curls
50lbs of 10 reps
45lbs of (this is wear I felt a pop and I stopped)


I saw a surgeon and he said I have a proximal bicep rupture.
He said recommends not doing any surgery. I'm pretty devastated.
My long head is not attached at the shoulder and he's saying he would leave it that way.
Does anyone have experience with this?
What should I do?
I'm bummed.


I ruptured the bicep tendon in my left shoulder in Aug-09 @ 46yr old. I chose to have the re-attachment surgery and it took place the first week of Sept. I was in a sling for the first four weeks and limited to unloaded ROM work for an additional eight. In week thirteen I was able to begin very-light ROM work. During week sixteen I was able to resume a normal training schedule with the exception of direct bicep work, and was able to start that during week twenty.

I lost 5/8" off my left tricep, and my shoulder and chest were noticeably atrophied. It took me two years to the month to match my pre-injury strength levels on flat presses and re-gain the upper-body size I lost. There is a different sensation on my left side during some rowing and all bicep movements(the tendon is re-attached to a lower point of the humerus than the original attachemnt), but my strength levels are even.


I echo this. Tore my bicep a few years ago doing scott curls in the 5-7 range while on DC. Stupid really. I only do them as my very last bicep exercise and in the 12-15 rep range now.


Thanks for your feedback.
At this time the surgeon recommended not having the surgery.
I don't have any pain and it feels pretty strong. I have full mobility and range of motion.
As well, I've been told that my rotator cuff is fine.
The only problem is that my long head of my bicep is not attached,proximally.
I see the Ortho dr tomorrow.


you're ok,

if the tear was at the elbow, then the need for surgery is a go.

bc it was at the shoulder there's really no need for surgery in most cases.

me i had a short bicep tendon tear as well as torn labrum and torn rotator cuff.

doc told me when the bicep ruptures at the shoulder there's a chance that the rotator cuff will

tear but it's rare that it does and the fact your is ok is good and you'll be ok.

with my injuries for the shoulder, it took 2 1/2 yrs to be completely healed and it was a very

serious injury and it required major surgery, hopefully the last i'll ever have.

i think the ortho will say no surgery, unless your're worried about what your bicep looks like....


It's the long-head tendon that ruptured.
It does look different. I want to fix it, but this particular Dr said he doesn't want to do it.
He said If I wanted to have it done, I should go to another Dr and get a 2nd opinion. It doesn't hurt right. It's just that the thought of my bicep only being attached with one tendon is unsettling.


sorry to hear this. I also ruptured my proximal bicep head tendon a month ago during hang pwr cleans. unlike you, my mri showed a partial supraspinatus rotator cuf tendon tear. does not really hurt, rom is ok, just cant do or havent tried to do heavy barbell work (cleans, snatches, overhead). been to 6 ortho dr's...only 1 is willing to work on the bicep...mist suggest no surgery at all for the partial, a few suggest rotator cuff tear surgery. it is a bummer on the bicep, but mine does not look too bad and I have not lost any real pulling strength. so in the end, I wish it was just the bicep, which I could learn to live with vs the rotator cuff too. good luck with your situation, let us know any updates....thanks


Thanks, I was told I have arthritis in both shoulders and I do have some mild aching in the shoulder joint. The bicep long head looks a little different but it's doable. It's just something I'm going to have to accept. I'm not young but I had been training like I was. Lately, I began training light just to get the blood flowing again.
Thanks for sharing that with us. I guess Doctors don't like to repair the long head.
I've heard that it's common for the rotator to tear. Good luck with whatever you do.