Distal Biceps Repair2016-10-12T12:39:59-04:00

Distal Biceps Rupture


The biceps muscle is located in the front of your upper arm. It is attached to the bones of the shoulder and elbow by tendons — strong cords of fibrous tissue that attach muscles to bones.

Tears of the biceps tendon at the elbow are uncommon. They are most often caused by a sudden injury and tend to result in greater arm weakness than injuries to the biceps tendon at the shoulder.

A distal biceps tendon rupture, or tear, occurs when the tendon attaching the biceps muscle to the elbow is torn from the bone. This injury occurs most frequently in middle-aged men during heavy work, lifting or weightlifting. A distal biceps rupture is rare, compared to ruptures where the top of the biceps connects at the shoulder.  

Symptoms of a Distal Bicep Rupture

When the distal bicep tendon ruptures, patient usually experiences one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • A loud popping sound at the elbow
  • Intense pain.
  • Swelling and bruising usually develop shortly after the rupture.
  • The bicep muscle may appear to be “balled up” near the elbow.
  • Finally, the arm may feel weak and movements are limited.

Treatment of Distal Bicep Rupture

The preferred treatment for an injury of this proportion is surgical. Directly repairing the tendon after the rupture will lessen the risk of tendon retraction. The surgeon will repair the rupture by cleaning off the torn end of the tendon and reattaching the tendon to the bone. There are several methods to achieve the end result of reattachment. With close consideration to your activity level and life requirements, your doctor will use the method that will bring the most benefit to you as a patient.

There are non-surgical treatment options as well for patients whose activity level is minimal or limited and whose daily activities do not require great arm strength.

Postsurgical rehabilitation usually begins within a week or two of surgery. Physical therapy will begin as soon as your doctor has determined that it is safe for you. Gradually, you will work up to improving your range of motion and restoring strength to your bicep. Therapy may take up to three months; and within six months you will be able to safely begin performing regular bicep activity.

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