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Stabilising function of the biceps in stable and unstable shoulders.

Authors: Itoi E, Kuechle DK, Newman SR, Morrey BF, An KN.

References: J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1993 Jul;75(4):546-50.

Abstract
We studied the contributions of the long and short heads of the biceps (LHB, SHB) to anterior stability in 13 cadaver shoulders. The LHB and SHB were replaced by spring devices and translation tests at 90 degrees abduction of the arm were performed by applying a 1.5 kg anterior force. The position of the humeral head was monitored by an electromagnetic tracking device with or without an anterior translational force; with 0 kg, 1.5 kg or 3 kg loads applied on either LHB or SHB tendons in 60 degrees, 90 degrees or 120 degrees of external rotation; and with the capsule intact, vented, or damaged by a Bankart lesion. The anterior displacement of the humeral head under 1.5 kg force was significantly decreased by both the LHB and SHB loading in all capsular conditions when the arm was in 60 degrees or 90 degrees of external rotation. At 120 degrees of external rotation, anterior displacement was significantly decreased by LHB and SHB loading only when there was a Bankart lesion. We conclude that LHB and SHB have similar functions as anterior stabilizers of the glenohumeral joint with the arm in abduction and external rotation, and that their role increases as shoulder stability decreases. Both heads of the biceps have been shown to have a stabilising function in resisting anterior head displacement, and consideration should therefore be given to strengthening the biceps during rehabilitation programmes for chronic anterior instability of the shoulder.

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