The biceps tendons attach the biceps muscle to bones in the shoulder and in the elbow. If you tear the biceps tendon at the elbow you will lose strength in your arm and be unable to forcefully turn your arm from palm down to palm up. Once torn, the biceps tendon at the elbow will not grow back to the bone and heal. Significant permanent weakness during supination (rotating the forearm from palm down to palm up) will occur if this tendon is not surgically repaired
Non-surgical treatment may be considered for patients who are elderly and inactive, however, patients must weigh the decision to proceed with non-surgical treatment carefully because restoring arm function with later surgery may not be possible. The tendon should be repaired during the first 4 weeks after injury.
The success rate of this surgery is very high. After time, return to heavy activities and jobs involving manual labour is a reasonable expectation.
The main risks associated with this surgery:
- Excessive stiffness or loss of motion
- Damage to the nerve that activates your elbow/hand muscle
Instructions for AFTER the surgery
- It is essential for someone to accompany you home and preferably stay with you for 24 hours.
- Leave half plaster clean, dry and intact until first post operative appointment.
- Move/wriggle fingers and thumb as much as possible. It will NOT cause harm/damage.
- Swelling. This is to be expected. Elevate operated elbow on 2 pillows as much as possible for the first 3-5 days.
- Pain. You will receive a prescription for pain medication on discharge. Pain relief medication works best if taken REGULARY.
- Numbness and tingling of the fingers and thumb. This is temporary, it will improve over time
- Excessive persistent pain
- Pus discharge from wound
Should any of these symptoms persist contact Dr Sim’s rooms or after hours emergency.
- Keep half plaster/backslab clean, dry, undisturbed til first appointment
- Move/wriggle fingers and thumb as much as possible. It will NOT cause harm/damage
- Sling on at all times
- OK to come out for daily shower AND daily gentle elbow Range of Motion (ROM) exercises – WILL NEED PHYSIO SUPERVISION (see figures below)
- NO lifting/carrying objects with affected arm AT ALL
- Remove sling
- Continue ROM exercises
- Add resistance AND strength training when full symmetrical ROM achieved (i.e. moves as freely as the UNINJURED side).
- Advanced strengthening
Return to sport? Only when suitably CONDITIONED