You can tear your biceps muscle by lifting an awkwardly shaped object, by stretching to reach something, or by trying to hold and stabilize a heavy object. I have also seen cases where a client has torn his biceps muscle when lifting a relatively light item when the muscle is tight or not loose.
Whatever the circumstances, you will usually experience a sharp, searing pain when the muscle gives way. Often you will notice swelling or a large bump, and you will almost certainly notice a loss of strength and mobility in the torn muscle.
If you experience this type of pain you should immediately stop what you are doing and report your injury to your supervisor. My experience has been that your HR supervisor, acting in concert with your employer’s workers’ compensation adjuster, will send you to an industrial clinic doctor on the posted panel. There, you can expect that your injury will be diagnosed as a strain and you may be given a two or three day “out of work” status, pain medications, and a referral to physical therapy.
Needless to say, physical therapy and pain meds are not going to solve the problem of a torn biceps muscle, and if your pain does not significantly improve within a few days, the correct next step would be to send you to an upper extremity specialist and to order an MRI.
Unfortunately, workers compensation insurance adjusters will try to avoid incurring the expense and extended no-work status, and they will not offer this necessary treatment. Typically, this is the point where a worker with a torn biceps will call me because his arm is not getting better and the industrial clinic doctor and insurance company are pushing for a light duty return to work.
Upper Extremity Specialist and MRI Necessary for Proper Diagnosis of Torn Biceps Muscle
When I get involved, my first action will be insist on a referral to an upper extremity specialist who has experience with biceps tears. Not every orthopedist has expertise with upper extremity injuries and not every upper extremity specialist has the credentials and track record that I look for. Once I get you to a qualified upper extremity specialist, we are likely to get a MRI ordered and thereafter, a qualified opinion about whether surgery is necessary.
Even with surgical treatment, there is no guarantee that you will have a complete restoration of function, so I make sure to include these uncertainties as an important component of my settlement demand. If you do choose to settle, that lump sum should contemplate both current and future issues you may have with your torn biceps muscle.
If you have a torn biceps muscle and you sense that your employer and their insurance company are not offering prompt and effective treatment, please call me at 770-351-0801.