Surgical Information - Procedure

Biceps Repair

What is biceps repair?

Biceps repair is minimally invasive surgery to repair a tear in the biceps tendon, the long, cord-like structure that connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder and the forearm. Repair of a biceps tear at the shoulder is called biceps tenodesis. Repair of a biceps tear at the elbow is called distal biceps repair.

Surgical treatment depends on the nature and extent of the damage and how much pain it causes. Surgery is performed to either trim the tendon or move it and anchor the torn tendon to the arm (humerus) bone. This is called a tenodesis. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient and demand, usually takes about 6-8 weeks with some time in a sling and postop physical therapy.

Ultimately, the type of procedure performed depends on the severity of your symptoms, as well as your overall health and other factors. It is important to consult with a qualified surgeon who is trained in these techniques to determine the best course of action.

Biceps tendon tears at the elbow usually require surgery to reattach and provide better strength with activities called supination, twisting the forearm with force like using a screwdriver. Healing after a biceps repair at the elbow takes about 3 months.

Anatomy

The biceps tendon originates from the top of the glenoid (shoulder socket) and exits through the bicipital groove. Below the shoulder, this tendon becomes the long head of the biceps muscle. The tendons that connect the biceps muscle to the shoulder joint are called the proximal biceps tendons. The tendon that attaches the biceps muscle to the forearm bones is called the distal biceps tendon.

When is surgery recommended?

Some shoulder biceps tears do not require surgery. For many people with partial tears in the shoulder, pain can resolve over time. Nonsurgical treatment, including ice, rest and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may help relieve pain. Physical therapy can help restore strength. If these conservative methods fail to alleviate symptoms, surgery may be necessary.

What is the recovery time?

Recovery from repair surgery is a gradual process that usually includes several months of rehabilitation to restore strength and range of motion. Patients can typically resume desk and light-duty work within the first week or two following surgery. Return to heavy labor and heavy lifting usually takes two to four months. A return to full, unrestricted function can take from six to nine months. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient and demand.

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