Tendon are the fibrous bands of tissue that attach the muscles to bones. Although they are remarkably sturdy – and can withstand forces of more than 5 times a person’s body weight – they can rupture.
The rotator cuff in the shoulder (the 4 muscles that work together to raise, extend and rotate the arm and the bicep are among the most common areas of tendon rupture in the body. And while tendon rupture is exceedingly rare, it is also extremely painful and can result in permanent disability if not treated promptly.
In this article experienced, board certified Detroit area hand and arm surgeon Dr. Uzma Rehman discusses the relationship between anabolic steroid use and ruptured tendons in the upper extremities.
Causes of Ruptured Tendons
Certain diseases such as gout or hyperparathyroidism, as well as having type O blood, increase the risk of tendon rupture. But the most common cause seems to be steroid use – both medicinally injected and when used by athletes to build muscle.
The 4 most common areas of tendon rupture include:
Quadriceps – muscles above the knee
Achilles tendon – on the back portion of the foot and ankle
Biceps – the muscle on the upper arm
Rotator cuff – where the arm meets the shoulder
Anabolic Steroid (AAS) Use and Ruptured Tendons
Responsible doctors always prescribe steroid usage conservatively and in moderation. This is because, while steroids offer many tremendous treatment options, overuse comes with a wide array of potentially dangerous side effects. So, the benefits must always be weighed against the risks.
Anabolic steroids are synthetically manufactured drugs that have many of the same effects on the body as the male hormone testosterone – including facilitating the ability to build muscle mass. Though anabolic steroids are a Class C drug and are supposed to be prescription-only, many athletes use them illegally to build muscle.
Weightlifters and bodybuilders in particular take them regularly to improve their physical performance and build up their bodies.
Many side effects of anabolic steroid use have been known for years: infertility, shrunken testicles, erectile dysfunction, baldness, male breast development and prostate cancer.
But new clinical studies have now also reported increased risk of tendon ruptures in men using anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). This was recently reported in Ruptured Tendons in Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Users: A Cross-Sectional Cohort Study published by the United States National Library of Medicine in the National Center for Biotechnology Information
Treating Tendon Rupture
Tendon ruptures can be treated either surgically or medically depending on the location of the rupture, the severity of the rupture, and the age of the patient. But, in all cases, it is a very painful condition that requires months of treatment and rehabilitation – and it can lead to long term immobility if not treated promptly and properly.
So, the association between anabolic steroid use by athletes and bodybuilder and tendon rupture, is just one more very good reason that performance enhancing AAS drugs should be avoided.
Detroit Hand & Arm Surgeon – Dr. Uzma Rehman
If you are suffering from an injury or pain in your fingers, wrist, elbow or arm, contact board certified Detroit area hand & arm surgeon Doctor Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. Early detection, and an aggressive treatment plan, is the most effective way to combat the effects of conditions like a ruptured tendon, and prevent long term damage and loss of mobility.
Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your condition.