Q: I was doing curls in the gym last week and felt a pop and a sharp pain in my left arm. I looked at my arm and my biceps muscle looked odd. It appeared like part of it had fallen down. The pain has mostly gone away but it still looks funny and feels weak. Is this something that can heal itself or do I need surgery?
A: A common injury while working out or lifting is a tear of the long head biceps tendon. The biceps begins as two tendons near the shoulder that become a large muscle that then becomes a single tendon, which attaches to a bone in the elbow. The biceps muscle flexes the elbow and rotates the forearm palm upwards. If one of the tendons tears near the shoulder, the biceps muscle may sink lower. This deformity is permanent if not surgically repaired. However, if surgery is not performed, the tendon that was not injured can compensate for the injured tendon and most of the biceps strength can be regained with time and physical therapy. The decision for surgery depends upon many factors including age, profession and cosmetics. I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon to confirm the diagnosis and help determine the best treatment option for you.
Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net.