Proximal Biceps Tendon Rupture: Partial or Complete

What Is a Proximal Biceps Tendon Rupture?

A proximal biceps tendon rupture at the shoulder commonly originates as fraying of the long head of the biceps tendon in the shoulder. Partial tears may result in a complete tendon rupture from an injury sustained during heavy lifting. The tear is usually associated with a sudden pop or a tearing sensation and pain in the shoulder. Significant bruising and swelling may occur. A partial tear is less severe than a complete biceps tendon rupture that results in a loss of shoulder and arm strength and requires surgical repair.


  • A sudden pop or a tearing sensation and severe pain at the shoulder
  • Significant bruising and swelling in the shoulder area


There are nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available for proximal biceps tendon ruptures. Both treatment types are performed by our shoulder specialists at Orthopaedic Specialists. 

Nonsurgical Treatments

Partial proximal biceps tendon ruptures may be treated with rest, avoiding aggravating activities, anti-inflammatories, and/or therapy. Complete tears are typically treated with surgical repair. Nonsurgical treatment often results in a loss of shoulder strength and is typically reserved for older, low-demand patients. Many partial tears will remain chronically symptomatic and require treatment. While nonsurgical treatment can relieve mild cases of the condition, surgery may be necessary if it continues to worsen.

Surgical Treatments

Arthroscopic Proximal Biceps Tendon Rupture Repair (Minimally Invasive)

Minimally invasive arthroscopic proximal biceps tendon rupture repair is the primary method of choice at Orthopaedic Specialists for repairing the biceps tendon. During surgery, a small incision is made in front of the shoulder through which an arthroscope, or small video camera, is inserted to allow your surgeon to view the surgery on a monitor. Special instrumentation is used to reattach the tendon. This technique results in a smaller incision, less scarring, less pain, and a faster recovery.

Mini-Open Biceps Tenodesis

Mini-open biceps tenodesis surgery is used for both partial or complete biceps tendon tears to relieve shoulder pain. During surgery, a small (2 – 3 cm incision) is made in front of the shoulder, and the biceps tendon is detached from the area of injury and reattached to the humeral head. This procedure works well for relieving pain, weakness, and visible postsurgical muscle deformities.