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Distal biceps tendon tear

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Well, I tore my left distal biceps tendon. I was riding MTB on the North Fork Trail in WV. I was already pretty tired after doing a 'fun ride' the day before with a couple of very fast friends.


The survivors did the NF the following day. We started off on the pavement with an 12 mile, 4 thousand foot vert or so, total climbing, 'warm up'. After a refuel break, we started down some consistently rough singletrack. Approx. another 4 miles in, I steered into (uphill) a rock which caused me to over-correct and sent me off the trail. I was headed downslope pretty slow, 2-3 mph. I could have just dismounted, or fallen over to the side easily. But, Noooo, brainiac with the big biceps reaches out and grabs a tree with his left hand....Pop!


Here are a couple of the MRI shots that may show the tear. I'm no radiologist. Pretty good with x-rays but MRI?


0133.jpg picture by Johnnys_Zoo



0104.jpg picture by Johnnys_Zoo



0079.jpg picture by Johnnys_Zoo



....I played my PT network and found an elbow specialist. One of my colleagues is an All American swimmer from UVA. So, turns out that is where I went. Top notch facility, and surgeons. I was, and am impressed (So far).




They have pics of pro and amateur athletes everywhere. Even 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair had autographed his endorsement pic! How could I say no?


So... I had surgery this morning. Pretty uneventful. Last thing I remember pre-surgery, was torturing a Medical Resident mildly. He had made a comment of doing thousands of these procedures. How can a first year resisdent have done thousands? Anyhow the Chief knocked me out. I woke up numb from shoulder to fingers in a 90 degree elbow splint. I'm supposed to be immobilzed like this for at least 3 weeks. Not supposed to get back to full activity for about 5-6 months.


So, I am know home, devising ways to do things with one arm.


From what I understand this is a relatively rare injury. It accounts for 2-4% of biceps tears. The large majority occur proximally. I have asked 4 of my closest PT friends and between them/we have over 50 years experience. We have only seen a handfull (3-4) of these injuries.


Anyway the Rehab protocol is rather long and restrictive.



Anyone with some ideas on how I can stay in shape with one arm?


I thought Percocet was supposed to make you sleepy....












post #2 of 4

Hey John, hopefully, you are feeling better. Not sure of the type or kind of tear but a guy I ski with tore his bicept tendon a couple of years back. I don't think it totally (separted) tore but he was up and skiing within two weeks in his cast but I think he started rehab within 2-3 weeks. Sounds like you have the bad fortune of some kind of really bad tear and injury. He did have some kind of complication where the bones fused at the site where they anchored the tendon.


Anyway, staying in shape; how about riding a stationary bike? Leg presses, squats and work up to lunges and such? As you know, it's the 1st 2 weeks that are always the worst.  When do you start rehab?



post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the well wishes Ron.


Kind of been a rough year. I hoped to meet up with more bears.


My Dad starts chemo and radiation Monday. He's had several surgeries already.


I quit my job, decided to take a break, before starting a new one. Thats when I got hurt. I don't really feel bad, just occasional pain. The itching is the worst now. I start the new job Monday, they are willing to 'accomodate' for my injury.


I guess the worst thing is not being able too do much. I can hardly even hold a book open with 2 hands.


I did set up my stationary trainer. I feel very unbalanced holding on, with one arm. Creates some buttock pain.  I also get neck pain, from holding up my splinted arm. If I wear my sling, it chaffs my neck. I am not supposed to bear weight through my injured arm.


I have been walking (2) dogs. And oh, one of my in-laws hunting dogs, and zoo member, got killed (and eaten) by a bear.  


Two dogs is is all I can handle safely, with all the wild critters around here. We have been getting a lot of rain so, I haven't been out a whole lot.


The coup de grace, is that my friend, (old college roommate) said that I was in the best shape he's seen me in for over 10 years.


So, I'm splinted with my elbow at 90 degrees flexion until 6/16. The only activity I'm supposed to have until the 16th is moving my fingers, and doing shoulder, pendulum swings.


On the 16th I'm supposed to get a 'dynamic' splint, gradually decreasing elbow flexion, from 90 to 30 degrees, over another 3 week period (6 weeks total from date of surgery).  I am allowed to rotate my forearm at 90 degrees of elbow flexion only.


Week 6 to 9 - Gradually restore full elbow extension. Initiate wrist submaximal isometrics with elbow locked in 90 degrees flexionand forearm in neutral. Week 8 - begin sub-maximal shoulder isometric exercises in extension, external rotation, internal rotation, abduction and adduction.


Week 9-12 Discontinue splint and initiate AROM of elbow and forearm. Continue wrist isometrics, grip and pinch strengthening, and shoulder isometrics, except shoulder flexion.


Week 12 to 6 months - Begin shoulder flexion isometrics and gradual strengthening of elbow and forearm. Gradually return to function.


Ack, barf, etc.....


post #4 of 4
John, just saw this post, Sorry, i am very sorry to hear about your dad and my thoughts and prayers are with all. If you don't mind either post or PM me about how is doing.

Sounds like a tough cycle for you and I can only hope you start the climb out to better times. I am also very sorry to hear about your dog. I didn't know you los thim. As you know, I was a bit of a vegtable for while (ok a few months) after losing Finn so my heart goes out to.
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