Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I had a bad fall last year and ended up having surgery to repair the rotator cuff. The muscle that was damaged the most was the subscapularis. The top of my shoulder doesn't hurt anymore. But I notice it's really sore along the front of my arm, especially if I try to do bicep curls at the gym. Can anything be done about this, or is it just part of the package?

Answer:

Many patients find out after the fact that more than one tendon was affected by the initial trauma or injury. Studies report more than half who injure the subscapularis also hurt the biceps tendon. The biceps is the muscle that bends the elbow. It is definitely the prime mover when doing bicep curls.

The report you gave is common when the biceps is damaged. Soreness, spasm, and sometimes the Popeye sign are present. The Popeye Sign refers to a bulge in the biceps caused by the muscle retracting after it tears.

If that is the cause of the problems you're having, then rehab and strength training may not be helpful. You may need an additional surgery to repair the biceps tendon.

A follow-up appointment with your surgeon might be a good idea. X-rays, MRIs, and/or ultrasound studies will help give a better idea of what's going on. Dirk Maier, MD, et al. Stabilization of the Long Head of the Biceps Tendon in the Context of Early Repair of Traumatic Subscapularis Tendon Tears. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. August 2007. Vol. 89-A. No. 8. Pp. 1763-1769.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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