T Nation

Distal Bicep Tendon Rupture Repair

I tore my left bicep tendon at the elbow 3 Oct while skinning the cat - never felt a stretch or strain, just two big pops in my left bicep. Got it checked, tendon rupture. Sent home early from deployment, had surgery 10 Oct (yesterday), so one week to the day between rupture and repair - docs (they were brothers, both orthopods) told my wife they were real happy with how it went.

My question is for anyone who has done this - what was your recovery like time-wise? Doc is saying three months post op before I can do any weight-bearing exercises. I am using some pharmaceutical ‘assistance’, so hoping to speed things up a little, but not at the expense of proper healing.

How long till you were lifting again?

How long did you feel ‘paranoid’ about certain moves (pullups, curls)?

How long till you got your strength back to pre-injury levels (if ever)?

Ruptured/repaired mine in 2001.

I don’t remember exactly, but I seem to recall it was ~2 months.

Let’s see–what time is it now? Seriously though, ever since the rupture, a small part of my awareness is always ‘on guard,’ monitoring the status of my tendons while I’m lifting.

As an aside: I worry more about the other tendon than I do about the repaired one.

Never. (Although I should add that I changed my style of lifting after the injury–higher reps, lower weights.)

I would add that there is a bright side to a distal biceps rupture. In repairing it, the surgery lengthens the muscle by ~1/2 inch, give or take. As you know, longer muscles look fuller than do shorter muscles. As a result, my s/p repair biceps actually looks better than the other one.

If I may offer some unsolicited advice: Be circumspect with the pharmaceuticals–some have the potential to make the situation worse.

Finally, what does skinning the cat mean?


Please elaborate.

Haven’t had a tendon rupture, but I tore my hamstring where it connects to my knee and felt it roll up, 8 years ago. I still worry about it while fielding ground balls in baseball, which is how I tore it.

I had the surgery 6/30 what can you tell me.
how long recovery
what can I do to speed things up etc…

I followed the DR’s recommendation of 12 weeks. I used some ‘work arounds’ to still train lats and delts (after waiting a few weeks). I used a strap to wrap around my arm right above the elbow, and was able to do a modified-type row, and for delts I used delt machines - one for presses and one for lateral raises. The press machine allowed me to continue pressing without having to worry about stabilizer involvement from the bicep. I started doing actual cable rows (holding the handle) a week or two before I was cleared, but (full disclosure) I was using 2 iu’s of HGH every day starting the day after surgery so that helped speed up my recovery. I also was able to have surgery one week to the day after the tear, which helped immensely.

I am now 9 months post op, and every thing has been fine. After I got cleared I started back in on pullups and such, making sure nothing hurt before progressing. When I started adding direct arm work back in around the 16 week mark, that went fine till I tried to ramp it up a few weeks later, and I started getting bicep tendonitis in the same shoulder (I was also doing direct arms 2x per week on top of my normal lifting routine). Left bicep is still smaller than the right, but I am trying to work on that.

Bottom line is, listen to your doctor and then when you get back in the gym, listen to your body. Turmeric and bioperine are your friends.

9 weeks out of endo button distal bicep tendon repair surgery. Was back in gym 3 days after surgery walking/doing cardio/abs/ legs whatever I could do to stay active and in the right mindset. Then was able to quickly incorporate unilateral upper body workouts with the uninjured side. Honestly have been able to maintain most strength and physique at around 12% bodyfat. I was in a cut and was determined to not lose my progress while keeping as much muscle as possible. Diet remained strict, eating slightly above maintenance allowing body to heal with sufficient nutrients but not gaining excessive fat which I have a tendency to do easily. The key for me is having a great sports injury/medicine educated surgeon that realizes active people recover much faster than the sedentary types that the normal rehab protocols are prescribed for. I was prescribed PT 6 weeks post Op with no restrictions, and after regaining some lost ROM in the first couple weeks was started on light weight training. Mandatory to find a sports therapy related PT environment or you will be provided sub-par PT protocol designed for a 90 yr old woman. Currently back to most pre-injury excercises but with moderate weights on the injured arm on my own at the gym, without pushing it of course and stopping at the slightest discomfort in repaired arm. From all of my research I feel that my rehab progress is well ahead of the standard time line, while pushing it aggressivley but extremely safely and always taking the advice and guidance from therapist and surgeon.
Best of luck