Help recovering from biceps tendon tear
I was doing pull ups Monday, at the very bottom of movement, felt a weird rumble in forearm and realized I had a torn long head biceps tendon. I'm very disheartened by the injury, especially as I contemplate future limitations. I'm an active 42 year old and do not want to have surgery to fix it.
I would love to hear from others their experience with this injury. Surgery or no? Time to heal before returning to pull ups? Tips on recovery? Whatever you have to share.
Suddenly mortal in Charlotte
I had a distal bicep tendon rupture back in 2008 I think it was. Not a tear, a complete rupture of the tendon. My bicep pulled up into my upper arm leaving a divot just above the elbow on the inside of the arm. Not a common occurrence, happened working offshore. Most painful injury that I have had.
Went back to the US and got it MRI'd and the surgeon told me that he could do the surgery but that I would likely be in more pain if he does then if I just left it alone and let it "graft" into the surrounding area. Which it has.
To be honest, I couldn't do a pullup before the injury so I can't say that it has affected that. However, I estimate that I have lost about 40% of the strength in my left arm when doing a curling type motion.
It took about a year before I was pain free when doing that type of motion.
The picture below is not me but the arrow points out where my divot is on my arm.
As to surgery or not, your call but I shun surgeries and doctors in general, as much as I can. I appreciated the honesty of the doctor who basically advised me not to have the surgery.
Thanks for your experience. I'm bummed to hear about the prolong loss of strength, but I know it is what it is. I, too, am not planning on surgery.
I should have clarified Acrilly that I'm not a gym rat and strength exercises has been my weak point. However, working with my TRX and doing some (very) modest bodyweight exercises, I have seen the strength in my left arm increase. Right after the injury it was likely 20% of what I had in the right arm when doing a curling motion. Like I said, it is about 60% now so I have no doubt that you can do much better than I did.
Originally Posted by Acrilly
The key here is giving it time to heal. That was difficult for me.
Please fellow Grok's...share. I was really hoping for more input. I'm struggling and would love some experience sharing.
Well I had a complete rupture of my pec tendon during a heavy bench about 4 years ago. Not the same tendon, but bottom line is if you wanna regain use of that muscle then you need to get it reattached. Did it hurt? Yup, I rehabbed it myself and pushed it really freaking hard (I'm in this field so I didn't need a practitioner to walk me through the process). Took 12 weeks for full ROM and to get 50% strength back. About a year till I was up to 90-95% of what it use to be. It'll never be 100% and that shoulder is sure to degenerate quicker than the other, but I have near normal strength and function. Had I not gotten the surgery my entire left pec would have atrophied and I would have lost nearly all adduction strength and a good deal of pressing strength.
TLDR version: If its completely ruptured get the surgery IMO. You will be immobilized for like 6 weeks probably, and followed by 6 weeks of progressive rehab....It will be painful, but if its completely ruptured you have no other chance of regaining near 100% strength and function. If you where in your 70's or 80's and didn't plan on doing much more with that arm then definitely skip the surgery and just take what you can get with it healing over. But, at a relatively young and healthy 42...I'd do it....and I'm not a surgery guy. In fact my day job is to help people avoid surgery when I can (Chiropractor)
Edit: Just realize that you say you "felt" the tear. You need an MRI to confirm if this is a full rupture or a partial tear. My response is for a straight full tendon rupture. If its a partial my response does NOT hold. I've helped many patients to rehab partial tears in my office and I would not automatically elect surgery on such an injury (degree of tear is important to know). And depending on where the tear is (myotendinous junction, muscle belly, or straight up tendon rupture) this becomes much more nuanced. Get an MRI and then you will have a better idea of your options.
Last edited by Neckhammer; 03-14-2014 at 08:43 PM.