The bicep and its functions
The bicep muscle is a vital component of the human arm, responsible for many everyday movements such as flexing and lifting. It is in the front of the upper arm and consists of long and short heads.
The long head originates from the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapula and attaches to the radial tuberosity of the radius bone. Meanwhile, the short head originates from the coracoid process of the scapula and attaches to the exact location of the radius bone (Physiopedia, n.d.).
The main function of the bicep muscle is flexion at the elbow joint, which allows for movements like bending and lifting objects toward the body. It also assists in the supination of the forearm, which is the rotation of the hand from a palm-down to a palm-up position (Verywell Health, n.d.).
Additionally, the bicep muscle stabilizes the shoulder joint during overhead movements, such as reaching for something on a high shelf or throwing a ball.
Maintaining strong and healthy bicep muscles is essential for daily activities, sports performance, and overall arm strength. Regular exercises like bicep curls, chin-ups, and hammer curls can help strengthen and tone the biceps.
Common bicep injuries
The bicep is susceptible to various injuries, including strain, tendonitis, and tears. Here are some of the most common bicep injuries:
- Distal biceps tendon ruptures: This injury occurs when the distal biceps tendon, which attaches to the radius bone near the elbow, tears or detaches from its attachment point (AAOS, n.d.). It is commonly seen in men over 30 who engage in heavy lifting activities (Grewal & Siozos, 2013).
- Partial tears: A partial tear is a partial tear in the biceps tendon. It usually occurs due to repetitive strain or sudden trauma.
- Distal biceps tendon avulsions: A distal biceps tendon avulsion is when the tendon completely tears off its attachment site on the radius bone, often causing a "pop" sensation and significant pain. This injury is most common in men over 40 (Chen, Sheth, & Wasserstein, 2020).
- Acute and chronic tears: Acute biceps tears occur suddenly, often due to a traumatic event or lifting heavy weights. Chronic tears, on the other hand, develop over time due to repetitive strain on the tendon.
The Bicep Hook Test
The Bicep Hook Test is a simple and effective diagnosis of distal biceps tendon ruptures. This test involves the patient flexing their elbow at a 90-degree angle while keeping their palm facing up, followed by resisting pressure applied by the examiner to the index finger.
If the biceps tendon is intact, the patient should be able to maintain resistance against the pressure. However, if there is a distal biceps rupture, the patient cannot resist the applied pressure, and their finger will move towards their palm.
Studies have shown that the Bicep Hook Test has a high accuracy rate for diagnosing distal biceps tendon ruptures O'Driscoll et al., 2007; Luokkala et al.,2020), making it an essential tool in clinical examination. It is also a simple and non-invasive test, making it a preferred option for many physicians.
However, while the Bicep Hook Test is a valuable clinical tool, it should not be solely relied upon for diagnosis.
How to use Carepatron's Bicep Hook Test template
Carepatron's free Bicep Hook Test form makes evaluating your patient's distal biceps tendon integrity easy. To use this template, follow these steps:
Step 1: Download the template
Get a copy of the Bicep Hook Test using this page's link or the Carepatron app. You may also access it from our resources library.
Step 2: Print or use the digital format
You can print the form or use it digitally using our app. Either way, ensure a copy is ready for your patient's clinical examination.
Step 3: Administer the test
Follow the instructions on the form and administer the Bicep Hook Test to your patient. Make sure to explain the procedure and answer any questions they may have.
Step 4: Record your findings
Record your patient's responses on the form. This will help you accurately assess the integrity of their distal biceps tendon.
Step 5: Interpret the results
Using the provided guidelines, interpret the results of the Bicep Hook Test to determine if your patient has a distal biceps rupture or an intact tendon.
Bicep Hook Test example (sample)
We have created a sample Bicep Hook Test to show how to use the template in practice. This is a fictitious example for educational purposes only. Feel free to view the sample here or download a PDF copy for reference.
While the Hook Test is a valuable tool for assessing distal biceps tendon ruptures, it has some limitations. It relies on the examiner's ability to perform and interpret the test correctly. Additionally, patients with other injuries or conditions affecting their arm may not be able to fully relax their biceps muscle, resulting in false negative or positive results.
A thorough physical examination, including a Bicep Load Test or a Bicep Tendonitis Test, and imaging studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), should also be considered to evaluate distal biceps tendon injuries comprehensively. The test may also have limitations in patients with severe pain, swelling, or limited range of motion in the affected arm.
Improving bicep health
Apart from distal biceps tendon ruptures, the biceps muscle and tendon can also be affected by other conditions such as tendinitis, strain, or tear. To promote overall bicep health and prevent injuries, performing regular strength and flexibility exercises for the upper extremities is essential. Here are some tips you can give patients for maintaining healthy biceps:
- Warm up properly before any physical activity or exercise.
- Incorporate a mix of exercises that target different muscles in the biceps, such as curls, hammer curls, and concentration curls.
- Maintain proper form and avoid excessive weight to prevent strain on the biceps muscle and tendon.
- Allow adequate rest and recovery between workouts to give the biceps time to repair and grow.
- Stretch the biceps after a workout to maintain flexibility and prevent stiffness.
- Seek medical attention if experiencing pain or discomfort in the biceps, as early treatment can prevent further damage.
Surgical reconstruction using a graft is often recommended for acute tears or chronic ruptures that do not respond to non-operative treatment. The most commonly used graft for distal biceps tendon reconstruction is an Achilles tendon allograft, which has shown good clinical outcomes in several studies.
Non-operative management can be considered for partial tears or chronic ruptures that do not cause significant impairment. This may involve physical therapy and exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles and maintain the function of the affected arm.
Moreover, in some cases, a ligament augmentation device (LAD) may be used to support the healing of the biceps tendon. This involves placing a cord-like structure made of synthetic material alongside the intact biceps tendon to provide additional support and stability during healing.
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Chen, R. X., Sheth, U., & Wasserstein, D. (2020). Management of Distal Biceps Tendon Ruptures. Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, 13(2), 168–174. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12178-020-09620-y
Grewal, D., & Siozos, P. (2013). Distal Bicep Tendon Tear: A Review of Management. Hand (New York, N.Y.), 8(4), 389–396. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11552-013-9530-3
Luokkala, T., Siddharthan, S. K., Karjalainen, T. V., & Watts, A. C. (2020). Distal biceps hook test - Sensitivity in acute and chronic tears and ability to predict the need for graft reconstruction. Shoulder Elbow, 12(4), 294–298. https://doi.org/10.1177/1758573219847146
Physiopedia. (n.d.). Biceps Brachii. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Biceps_Brachii
O'Driscoll, S. W., Goncalves, L. B., & Dietz, P. (2007). The hook test for distal biceps tendon avulsion. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 35(11), 1865–1869. https://doi.org/10.1177/0363546507305016
Verywell Health. (n.d.). Biceps Anatomy. https://www.verywellhealth.com/biceps-anatomy-4688616