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Dislocation of the Long Tendon of the Biceps

On the anterior aspect of the humerus, between the attachments of the tendons of the supraspinatus (greater tuberosity) and the subscapularis muscles (lesser tuberosity), is a ligament that holds the long biceps tendon in the groove in which it glides. If this ligament stretches or tears or if the groove is shallow, the biceps tendon may become partially or totally dislocated. Dislocation most commonly takes place medially, giving the tendon a straighter course during contraction. It can also dislocate laterally with abduction and external rotation.

Symptoms and diagnosis

– Bending of the elbow and abduction of the shoulder may cause pain extending up to the shoulder.
– Abduction of the humerus can cause pain over the anterior aspect of the shoulder.
– The examiner may feel the biceps tendon slipping in and out of its groove when the arm is externally and internally rotated.
– An MRI scan can assist with the diagnosis.


The athlete should:
– rest;
– apply local heat and use a heat retainer after the acute phase.

The doctor may:
– prescribe anti-inflammatory medication;
– immobilize the arm in acute cases;
– perform an MR arthrogram (with contrast medium in the joint) of the shoulder;
– operate if the tendon is completely dislocated or causes persistent problems.

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