T Nation

Distal Bicep Tendon Tear

I tore my distal bicep tendon while deadlifting. I have done a lot of internet research with almost all advising surgery. I have seen two orthopedic surgeons who are advising against surgery and to keep the “popeye” arm. They are saying I will “only” lose about 30% pronation strength and will loose minor range of motion. They both say the surgery is mostly cosmetic especially since it is my non-dominant side. Another consideration is non surgery is month recovery vs. 4 month recovery for surgery.

When it first happened I was under the impression surgery for sure but now I am I 50/50 on whether to have the surgery or not. I don’t mind looking a little goofy but I am concerned about the range of motion and loss of strength.

Most of the forums I read talk about having the surgery but none focus on not having the surgery. Has anyone opted out of the surgery and now have regrets or had success? Any input would be appreciated.

I am 37 years old, very active and work in law enforcement.

So you want to have a sexy looking bicep and maximise function or not?

Was it made clear that you are active/lift and want to do that to the best of your ability in future? Or were your surgeons under the impression that you only wanted to be able to live life pain free and do stuff around the house and work place.

Was under the impression that non surgical was for peeps who do minimal activities and require minimal arm strength… doesn’t sound like you.

As for outcomes what your doctors say is pretty much what the research says too “Nonoperative treatment of distal biceps tendon ruptures can yield acceptable outcomes with modestly reduced strength, especially supination.” Don’t really know what else there is to say. If good enough is enough for you function wise then non surgical is a decent option unless there’s some other factor at play here.

Would recommend you get a second (third?) opinion tho and some surgery action is possible.

Definetely get to another doctor ASAP. Did the exact same thing a little less than a year ago deadlifting as well, same age as you. This is time sensitive, the longer you wait the more the tendon retracts up into the shoulder and becomes less elastic, if the surgeon cannot stretch it far enough they have to graft on a cadaver tendon which makes the repair weaker and a longer recovery. I got lucky that the local ortho office I chose specialized in athletes and aimed for full recovery so not getting surgery was never even offered as an option. I’ve been through it all and still continuing to rehab, happy to answer any questions you might have. I know its not a terribly common injury but I was surprised how little knowledge or discussions come up when trying to google info on it.