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Distal biceps tendon repair

Restoring your range of motion

Conservative management in sedentary patients is a viable option, but surgical repair, especially in acute conditions, is often preferred. It involves reattachment of the tendon to the radius bone. There are different techniques depending on the situation, but most often stitches are put through the distal biceps tendon and then pulled through a suture anchor or device positioned in the radius bone to re-join the tendon to its original location. This will allow the tendon to heal back to the bone.

Medications and physiotherapy

Non-surgical treatment methods most often centre around pain management and maintaining arm function. Pain and anti-inflammatory medications are helpful for reducing pain and swelling to tackle the immediate symptoms. Combined with physical therapy, it is possible to strengthen the surrounding muscles in the arm, but without surgical intervention to treat to the ruptured tendon, there will be a permanent and significant reduction in arm strength and range of motion.

Non-surgical treatment methods

  • Medications and physiotherapy

Surgical intervention

In physically active patients or those presenting with an injury in their dominant arm, it is essential to treat the condition as early as possible with surgical intervention. After 2-3 weeks of the injury, the biceps muscle and tendon can begin to shorten and scar, which can be seen when the biceps retract towards the shoulder. If this is the case and the condition has progressed beyond this point, it may not be possible to restore function to the arm with surgical repair. Surgical treatment methods after this time can be more complicated and potentially less successful.

Surgical intervention is typically carried out through an open incision, where the surgeon focuses on repairing the tendon at its attachment site, which will allow it to heal back to the bone. The tendon is held in place with suture anchors (small metal implants) or with stitches that attach the tendon to the radius bone through small, drilled holes. Alternatively, to an open procedure, two smaller incisions can be made, one on the front of the elbow and another at the back. This again will have the same focus of restoring the ‘natural’ structure of the tendon.

Your specialist will guide you through the appropriate treatment options for your condition and advise on the best route of action going forward.

Surgical treatment methods

  • Surgical intervention