Dr. Kurt Gasner from the Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic

How I had surgery to repair my right distal bicep tendon and became the Six Million Dollar Man. Okay, the Five Thousand Dollar Man.

It began with a *pop*. Well, it began when I agreed to help my friend Vannah move into her new apartment, and then it technically ended with a *pop*.

Could you say no to this face?
Could you say no to this face?

As I lifted the bureau into the back of the U-Haul, I felt my bicep stretch and move in a way that it shouldn’t. There wasn’t any pain, but my whole arm felt weird, and when I straightened my arm, my muscle undulated under my skin like an alien.

After consulting with my medical team, which consists of my mother and a friend who is a sports medicine doctor, I came to the completely uneducated conclusion that I had torn my right bicep tendon at my elbow, an injury that is relatively rare, as less than 5% of bicep tears occur at the elbow versus the shoulder. Once the bruises appeared a day or two later, I knew that I was right in my self-diagnosis.

Bruising after tearing the right distal bicep tendon

I went in for an appointment at the Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic and met with Kurt Gasner, MD, a specialist in Orthopedic Surgery and Surgery of the Hand and Upper Extremities. Dr. Gasner was fantastic, rejecting my insistence that he was actually Academy Award winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, yet still taking the time to explain how the bicep tendon attaches at the elbow and why surgery to repair it is extremely important. While I’d still retain strength, thanks to the redundancy built into our bodies, the ability to turn my wrist and lift weight in a flexing motion would be reduced significantly. Since I assumed this meant that my ability to masturbate would be severely affected, we scheduled surgery to repair my right distal bicep tendon immediately for the following Friday.

Dr. Kurt Gasner from the Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic

After determining that normal anesthesia wouldn’t work, the anesthesiologist brought in a gorilla tranquilizer, which seemed to do the trick. I also had what’s called regional anesthesia, which is a block that was inserted to prevent the pain receptors in my brain from feeling pain as the surgeons worked on my arm. With the block inserted and the sedative about to kick in, I was ready to go.

Adam Avitable in the operating room before bicep tendon repair surgery

WARNING: All images after the following photo are of a graphic nature, with close-up images of the surgical process involved in repairing a distal bicep tendon. If you faint at the sight of blood, if you are pregnant, if you are subject to projectile vomiting, or if you are under the age of 13, you may want to click away now. Otherwise, continue at your own risk.

Dr. Gasner wrote his initials on my arm to confirm that he was operating on the right body part. He also sketched out the incision and completely ignored my request to make it into a happy face.

The incision is drawn onto my arm

Once the incision was made, Dr. Gasner had to reach inside my arm and find the distal bicep tendon where it had curled up inside my arm after snapping. With his finger, he cleared away scar tissue and used the clamps to slowly unroll and extend the tendon to its proper length.

My distal bicep tendon is retrieved and stretched out.

Once the tendon had been fully extended, Dr. Gasner threaded it with a fiber that looped in and out of the tendon until it held it securely. I wasn’t aware until after the procedure how much this was similar to sewing. I’m pretty confident that Dr. Gasner crochets a bad-ass quilt, too.

The tendon is securely threaded with a fiber wire.

After the distal bicep tendon had been threaded, a drill was brought in to drill through the bone. Also, my arm now looks like the pit of Sarlacc from Star Wars. Where’s Boba Fett when you need him?

A hole is drilled in the bone to install the corkscrew anchor

Once the holes had been drilled, two small corkscrew anchors were threaded with the same  fiber. They were carefully inserted into the holes in the bone, and then turned so that they locked in place, much like a button would do, if it was made of metal and tiny and used to hold your tendons in place so you don’t flop around like a sad broken old man.

The suture is pulled tight through the anchors, which attaches the tendon to the bone.

Once Dr. Gasner inserted the anchors, he pulled the fiber tight until my distal bicep tendon was back where it belonged, and tied off the suture in what I imagine to be a very pretty bow.

The tendon is now attached to the bone through a secure toggled anchor

A few stitches later and Dr. Gasner gave it the thumbs-up before leaving to go do what doctors do after they’re done with another successful surgery, which is probably to laugh mightily and proclaim to the heavens, “I AM GOD”.

Post-op Right Distal Bicep Tendon Surgery

The entire procedure to repair my right distal bicep tendon only took about an hour and fifteen minutes. When I came to, I felt immediately alert and normal, except for the giant splint around my arm and the fact that my entire arm was completely numb.

Adam Avitable awakens from surgery to repair his right distal bicep tendon

The recovery time has been very quick. My fingers and arm regained feeling after about 24 hours, and I spent a week in the splint. My pain levels were very low – in fact, I only took three Percocet total, and the only day that I got whiny was on the Sunday immediately following the procedure.

One week after the procedure, I got the splint removed and was able to start moving my arm and twisting my wrist until I’m back to normal, a recovery process which could take as long as three months. I expect to be able to begin masturbating again immediately, though.

I’m writing this post to act as a reference for anyone who may have had this happen or for anyone who may be considering having surgery to repair his or her distal bicep tendon. For anyone in Central Florida, I would wholeheartedly recommend Dr. Kurt Gasner and the entire staff at Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic, as they were efficient, friendly, informative, and provided an easy surgical experience for me.

Also, if anybody else needs help moving . . . call somebody else!

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188 Replies to “How I had surgery to repair my right distal bicep tendon and became the Six Million Dollar Man. Okay, the Five Thousand Dollar Man.”

  1. Roger Reynolds

    I enjoy looking at those kinds of photos. I think I was a dermatologist in a past life.

    I’m about to have my ACL and Medial Meniscus repaired with, hopefully, similar success. Except that I don’t masterbate with my knee.

    Glad it worked out for you Adam!

  2. Dave2

    WHEN YOU TELL ME NOT TO LOOK, I AM COMPELLED TO LOOK! Now I am in a state of trauma and trying not to puke. Thanks so much for that (and the people sitting near me at the airport thank you as well!).

  3. KaraB

    That was so cool! It’s amazing how they can do all that in a little incision. If it were me doing the surgery, I’d probably have to open the whole arm, so it’s probably a good thing I’m not a surgeon.

    • Avitable

      I forgot to mention to him that I was even having surgery on it. The staff is used to taking photos because it can be used for articles and for informative purposes, so it was no big deal for them to take photos for my own needs.

  4. Al_Pal

    Gnarly, dude. But cool. Who took the pics? I’m guessing you thought of wanting to blog this and enlisted a friend? Perhaps I’ll find the answer in comments…

  5. Lynda

    Maybe I should post the photos of my recent colonoscopy!

    Really cool that they were willing to take pictures. I would have thought they would be concerned with the liability if your phone “disappeared” for some reason.

  6. Kevin

    I experienced exactly the same injury three weeks ago, however as we have the National Health Service here in UK it is a longer wait for the surgery, but now i see it close up looking forward to my own set of photos. Glad you recovered well…….oh and your right about the pain easier to man up than take some grog inducing pills!!

  7. Brandon Wagner

    I was wondering if you could still move your arm fairly well after it tore(before surgery). I’m thinking I have a minor tear. Huge bruise that would indicate my thinking but military doctor thinks it’s just a bruise. It’s been 11 days and it’s starting to feel worse and my shoulder is starting to hurt a little bit. Just curious if you could still do a pushup or did you have a full rupture? I’m thinking about a second opinion as I know this surgery should happen fairly quick after injury. I have the bruise on my forearm but a lot worse and bruising up the inside of my bicep.

    • Avitable

      I was able to move my arm completely – I just had pain if I twisted it a certain way or tried to lift anything heavy. My shoulder never hurt, though, so you may have a different type of injury. And I never did pushups either way. 🙂

      • Kevin

        I also had a huge bruise. However I had a full rupture but could still do a few push ups. It was any twisting movement that caused pain and my should was also in pain for a few day’s. I elected not to have the surgery 10 days ago and find I am experiencing an improvement every day. A decrease in pain and much more movement, but this is now 6 weeks since the injury.

      • Brandon Wagner

        On the pit of the elbow my arm is really tight and like you said if I twist my hand a certain way it hurts too. Nothing terribly painful but really tight with a little pain. Bruise is almost gone now too. If you can do a pushup then there is nothing wrong with you. Military mentality.

  8. Terry

    I’m one week removed from my right bicep tendon rupture. I wish I didn’t need the pain meds. My first 48 hours crushed me. Ive experienced an Achilles rupture 4 yrs ago and this has been more painful. How long before you had full range of motion? I have trouble getting a fork to my mouth and masturbating. Hoping less than another 7 days. Just scheduled a tee time for next Monday

  9. Mitch

    This is Mitch, Megan Gordon’s husband, I ruptured my left bicep tendon at the elbow last week. While looking up the pros and cons of having or not having surgery I came across your post. I am set to have surgery next week to reattach the tendon. Wondering how the recovery is Going? My doctor said it would be about a year recovery.

  10. David Dawson

    I had the button surgery about 10 weeks ago. New surgery for here in Denver. A few days in a dressing. But, the rehab has been interesting in that the Physical terrorists have no idea what to do with me. There is no protocol for this they say. I have slowly been increasing my weights and trying to mimic what I will be doing once I go back to being a Paramedic in a busy system.

    I am interested in finding if anyone has or can direct me to some literature on a Physical Therapy protocol or work-out. I am afraid I might rupture it again and be out even longer. Being 10 weeks out i am able to curl 12-15lbs, do all my theraputic band exersices and a few things I have put together as a work out, but again no protocol im just winging it.

  11. Randall Hughes

    Avitable,I had the surgery 10 weeks ago and am still numb from thumb to elbow.about a 2 inch wide strip. How long to go away for this? Also how long for the muscle to fill back in? I have a short looking muscle,looks like it did before the surgery. Does this come back? Thanks

  12. Bob Hart

    I had my surgery and have had 4 weeks of PT.I still can’t move the last three fingers on my hand.I go back to Dr. this week he wants another MRI before the appointment,Don’t know what to expect.

    • Debbie

      My husband had distal bicep surgery one week ago and his hand was so swollen after surgery. The ice therapy has helped but he still can’t move the last three fingers on his hand. Is this normal?

  13. T-wrex

    I had the surgery to repair a complete distal bicep tendon repair about 3.5 weeks after i pulled it loose. The surgery went well…they used the anchor n button style repair. I had pain before the surgery in my shoulder and elbow. My arm would fatigue really fast doing simple things ….like dishes or folding clothes or masrterbating. More of a cramping type pain. 2 weeks after surgery they unwrapped it and most all of the pain was gone, I had pretty much full range of motion back. Im 4 weeks out of surgery and it is still tight if i try to straighten my arm…and sore if i move it certain ways….like twisting …curling type movement…pulling…ect. I am a smoker so they say i dont heal as well. I had a hard time getting a surgeon that would do the repair because I smoke. All things considered I am happy with the results. My bicep is back where it should be n nuthn is floppin around in there.

  14. Mike

    My main question is: How is Vannah’s new apartments working out?

    But while I’m here, (1) can you tell us if the switched you to a removable splint after the first one came off? (2) Did the surgeon discuss the options with you before deciding on the anchors? (3) Is it your impression that the attachment to the anchors is the permanent attachment or is it just until the tendon reattaches to the bone (and the “thread” eventually dissolves)?

    My procedure was similar but instead of the anchors they drilled the two holes all the way through and tied the “thread” off on the other side of the bone. That required a second incision on the opposite side of the first. They gave me a removable splint after 10 days but seemed shocked that I stopped using it after a few weeks — as if the whole procedure might become a failure because of it. In my case the intent definitely is/was that the end of the tendon will bond to a depression they created in the bone. The thread is just to hold it there until the tendon/bone meeting point gets covered over with bone, etc.

    • Mike

      For anyone who is concerned about why they got a tendon rupture when they did —

      a) My tendon rupture came a few weeks after using the antibiotic Cipro. I have since learned that Cipro is “associated with” tendon rupture and carries a significant warning box at the top of printed and web information about the drug.

      The exertion that ruptured my bicep tendon was trivial compared to what I consider “heavy”.

      b) Also it is not just any exertion of the bicep that might result in the injury. It is exertion that starts with the arm already fully extended (when the tendon is already under tension).

    • Jim

      Hi Mike. Your post-surgery circumstances were much closer to mine than Adams, please see my comments below. As for your #3 question, the last part of your post describes our situation correctly: the sutures bio-absorb and you’re left with a useless little anchoring plate – but it won’t set any alarms off at the airport. By the 6th week, I’m told that the tendon is holding to the radius all on its own.

      And I do cheat with my splint – I take it off as I work at my desk (I test software) but I put it back on when I’m mobile. My PT tech told me about the guy who wasn’t wearing his brace/splint, and absentmindedly went to pick up his luggage from the airport carousel while on the phone with his left hand. *POP!* – he had to go through the process all over again. I could not image. And he was 6 weeks post-surgery. I’m terrified to be *that* guy.

      • Mike

        Thanks for the info.

        While they were disappointed that I had stopped using the brace they did seem surprised at how good my range-of-motion was (several people in the room raised their eyebrows when I showed how my supination was coming along). Turning your hand from palm-down to palm-up is actually done by the bicep and is something your should not do in the early stages of healing (unless aided by your other hand). I think not wearing the brace has everything to do with my range of motion recovering so well. But then again, I realize that the risk of reinjury was high during previous weeks. I feel sorry for the guy at the airport… especially since the 2nd time around sometimes calls for a piece of tendon to be taken from elsewhere and grafted to the repair site. Sounds horrible.

        At 10 weeks they told me I could stop wearing the brace (as if they still didn’t get it) and that I could start doing light isometrics with the arm. At 12 weeks (which is tomorrow) I can start doing light resistance training with the arm. Elsewhere on the web I have read that at 16 weeks the healing is pretty complete.

        • Jim

          Interesting indeed. The human body is an amazing piece of machinery and your progress doesn’t surprise me. All the brace does is keep you from putting pressure on the fixed tendon in such a way that prevents an easy re-rupturing. I’d say there was a bit of luck on your side, my man. “In the moment”, anyone could pick up a toddler, a 5-gallon bucket of paint, of a piece of luggage without thinking about it. Even after my ortho brace comes off, I’ve ordered a neoprene elbow brace to serve as a gentle reminder to not pick heavy shit up with my dominant right arm.

          Thanks for your info as well and I’m glad it’s all coming along well for you!

    • Avitable

      Sorry that I didn’t reply in a timely fashion, Mike. My impression was that the anchors is a permanent attachment – he was using filament wire, not thread, so it was not designed to dissolve. I switched to a simple sling after the first one came off, and the method of using anchors was never discussed.

      • Jim

        Then the monofilament would explain your ability to move your arm around more. I guess lately, more docs are using the dissolvable sutures with an anchor – which leaves a period where the tendon is not fully fused to the bone and the sutures are almost dissolved. I’m getting ready to enter my 6th week post-surgery and I’m still braced. 🙂

  15. Jim

    Well, well. Talk about close to home. Literally and figuratively. I too was helping someone move in late December, I too heard (and felt, to the point of almost hyperventilation) the POP. I am also in CFL and seeing Dr. Deren at Jewett. My tendon partially broke so I didn’t get the “Popeye muscle” of a full dis-attachment nor did I get any bruising. Supination hurts like a mofo. My surgery is this Thursday, and I’m terrified of the loss of joint usage for an extended period. I appreciate your blog and it gives me some measure of relief in knowing more of what to expect.

    It also concerned me when the doc said that tears as they appear on the MRI are almost always worse when he gets in there and looks at the damage.

    And I couldn’t agree more – I’m never helping anyone move ever again. Thanks for the info, I hope your arm is back to near 100%.

  16. Glen

    Detached my right bicep at the elbow two days ago. Didn’t realize how screwed I was until i took my jacket off and saw that my bicep was missing. I really appreciate the humor and the photos. Like you I’m a sick SOB who likes to record these things. I’ve had way more than my share of surgeries and always appreciated surgeons that have the humor needed to take pics etc, for me it displays confidence and I like cocky confident surgeons… don’t want any wimps sticking a knife in me… Having surgery this week. I’m on the west coast or I’d seek out your guy.

    Best of luck!

    • Jim

      Hey there Glen.

      I guess Adam isn’t maintaining this blog anymore. I wanted to weigh in since my last post here (just before yours) as I’m towards the end of the post-surgery healing phase and in regular PT.

      When I read this blog before my surgery, I had a different idea of what to expect after the surgery was done. I had the same big jalopy on my arm that Adam did after surgery. I got it off after a week too, but the similarity ends there. The nurse then put a sturdier fiberglass one put on for two more weeks, that went from my hand to just below my shoulder. When I got it off two weeks later I was immediately sent for a custom-fit removable brace that keeps my arm at a 45 degree angle. They only wanted me to take it off only for PT (or showering, but I was instructed to wear my sling whilst doing that). So, here I am on my 5th week out of 6 that I’m supposed to keep my arm mobilized.

      So needless to say, I found it rather odd that Adam only had his arm mobilized for a week, especially when we had our surgeries at the same organization.

      Maybe you won’t have as much mobilization as me, maybe you will. I guess it depends on the doctor and how he/she does the procedure. Speaking of, my doctor was far from what I’d call ‘confident and cocky’, but he’d done thousands of these procedures. I’ll take successful mileage over cocksurety any day. 🙂

      Good luck with your procedure.

      • Avitable

        I don’t reply often anymore, no, but I still see everyone’s comments. I’m not sure if you and I had a slightly different issue, but I just had to avoid putting any weight on my arm after the first week and kept it in a cloth sling for a few weeks, and then was able to move and use it like normally, albeit gently, after that.

  17. Glen

    Thanks guys. I had my surgery, and as expected, I was in for a whole new definition of pain… The incident didn’t really hurt that bad, my pain experience is lengthy, so in comparison to some of the other stupid shit I’ve done, this was not bad. Post surgery was a different story, percocet round the clock for the first 4-5 days, then just advil during the day until I got home from work, then percocet again. I’m now two weeks post surgery and the pain is bad but tolerable during the day… I was never put into any cast or brace and don’t anticipate doing so based on the doc’s comments. He doubled up on the little button device, said it was due to the relatively larger bicep, always had big arms. I wear a sling when I’m in public so no one tries to shake my hand or whatever, and helps remind me to not use it.

    Anyway, I know there’s still a long road to recovery.

    Thanks for all the info guys, very helpful.

    Take care,


  18. Katie

    How long was it till you were 100% back to normal? Did you only have the cloth sling? Or did you have a bunch of different braces like the other guy was talking about??

  19. Dr Hedi Hmida

    Take care… I have the same problem. I decided to not do the surgery. I don’t have pain. I can move my hand as nothing happened…The MRI concluded the rupture of one of the two joints ” distal biceps tendon”. Same symptoms as yours.
    Now as the anesthesia is not general…I definitely changed my mind since it is local (I am over 55years)
    thx for the clarifications.

  20. nick

    Can anyone help me out ? I just did my surgery on Wednesday And here we are 3 days later and I can not fully extend my fingers. Starting to get a little scared. Any info would be great thanks !

  21. Tony

    Hey man, came across your site while searching about distal biceps tendon tear, I too torn the tendon last week and probably have a surgery next Monday. I was moving a couch!!! and the pop sound was heard all the way across the room.
    your post encouraged me, specially the pics and your attitude. thanks for the info man, Was the anesthesia local? any tips for the op and recovery after op? Cheers!!

    • doug

      I tore mine a week ago. Had.it operated on 7 days later and the recovery has been easy. The only thing that was really strange was the nerve block. I literally couldn’t go to sleep until I started to feel my fingers again. Otherwise I am 4 days post op with next to no pain. Although having and arm you’re not supposed to use is a pain in the butt.

  22. Chris M.

    I tore mine a little more than a week ago moving boxes of Christmas decorations into the house from the garage. With the holidays it is going to be tough getting surgery scheduled right away. I’m seeing the surgeon on Monday to discuss the next step and when. Thank you for the blog and thank you to all those that added their comments. Happy Holidays to you all. Chris

  23. Tony

    9 days post op, had my op on the 15th 18 days after i tore my tendon trying to move a sofa. nerve block anesthesia, single incision with toggleloc zip loop. like Doug, i’m having forearm numbness from the radial nerve problem but it seems its getting better. having an arm you’re not suppose to use is indeed a pain in the butt, i’m wearing an immobalizer, it fixes my elbow and my arm.

    Chris, hope you schedule the op soon, let us know the updates.
    quick recovery everyone, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


  24. tap

    Tap. I had a partial tear. Didn’t even feel it till the next daySurgery was about 3 weeks after it happened.I was supposed to wear the brace for 14 days but I took it off after 8 days but I did wear it for two more nights as I was afraid that I would move my arm in a bad way while sleeping. I just had the staples removed today at day 12. I still don’t have full range of motion but I haven’t been pushing it since removing the brace.I should mention that the main reason I took the brace off was it was pressing on my wrist bone and inside elbow bone and hurting me. Even after temporarily removing it and adding more padding in strategic locations and wrapping it looser. But the doctor told me today that he had to cut and tie off the main large vein in the crook of my elbow. So because of that I’ve still got some swelling and clear fluid in the arm and some is even still leaking out of the wound. So I still have to keep it elevated a good part of the day. the doctor advised me to not lift anything heavy for the next month and work on range of motion.I think I’d be much further along if I didn’t have this swelling because of that loss of that big vein.and I do still have some tingling in the pad of my thumb that probably is not going to go away anytime soon. This was one incision the metal button fiberwire and the bioabsorbable screw. I’ll add more in a week or two.

  25. Tony

    I’m a Database and unix administrator so I need my hand to type on the keyboard, I used only left hand up until 3 days ago. Last night was my first day of physiotherapy. Not 100% motion range yet and terrible pain on elbow and shoulder.
    Numbness is going away but being replaced by pain. Dr said it will take time but go away.
    Cheers everyone!!
    Speedy recovery

  26. Tony

    Oh forgot to say I was off for two weeks. Third week went in and tried to type with only left hand. Two days ago tried to move the mouse… It felt like I’m moving an elephant!!
    But phisiotherapy helps a great deal!

  27. Jason

    And another one here with a full rupture of the bicep at the elbow. Happened while lifting a 60lb plasma tv from the floor with my neighbor on 11/30/14. I’m in good shape and regularly exercise my arms, which may have been the underlying cause of the injury, according to the doc. Wear and tear over the years may have weakened the tendon, but I never felt any pain after lifting.

    Anyways, straight-armed and lifted the tv from the floor, while my neighbor lifted the tv at the opposite side. We both stood up and “pop.” I felt something pop in my left elbow and quickly set down my side of the tv. I was wearing a sweatshirt, so I couldn’t visually see anything. My arm instantly started having crazy muscle spasms and was flopping around uncontrollably for about a minute. Once it stopped flopping, and I caught my breath, my wife carefully removed my sweatshirt. My bicep was gone. It retracted back up to my shoulder and was very scary to look at. I was in no pain though, and could still use my arm with very little pain…..until I rotated my wrist, which created a very sharp pain in my forearm and inner arm. I had no bruising at all, which was strange.

    An MRI and doctor visit the next morning confirmed the bicep fully ruptured. Surgery happened two days later with a button. I used the prescribed pain killers for the first three days, then stopped and switched to Advil, which actually helped more. I’ll be at six weeks tomorrow and am still locked at 90 degrees (conservative doctor). In a nutshell so far – two weeks in a hard cast, four weeks in a brace locked at 90, and in a sling the whole time. It wasn’t a joyful holiday season for me, to say the least. Typing one-handed sucks (doing it now). I’m in minimal pain in my arm, but it has yet to leave the brace. PT starts soon, so the pain will be coming soon :(. I do have numbness in two fingers, but it comes and goes with the swelling. I missed the entire month of December from work, but did try coming in two weeks after surgery….mistake. I work in IT, and sitting all day in the sling still causes it to swell and throb. My arm tends to feel good in the morning, but swells as the day progresses. I’m trying to stay positive, but this feels like its never going to end. And now my “good” arm hurts from using it so much (driving, etc.). I can’t do anything myself (shower, tie shoes, button my pants, cut my food, etc.). Hoping for better days ahead because this really sucks……

  28. Tony

    Jason, hope you get well soon.
    Be careful, keeping your hand immobilized all this time will cause stiff elbow and stiff shoulder joint which are a hell of a pain!!! I’m currently suffering from it. my arm was immobilized for almost 2 month, both pre and post surgery. second PT session tonight :/ hoping for the best.

    Cheers all!!

  29. Brian Tonah

    Im just now going through my 4th month of healing. Had the same surgery. Getting ready to head back to work as a security guard. Mine looked a whole lot more freakish than yours. Didnt have any bruising but from midway up my bicep was nothing but a pile of little snakr sized vains. My bicep muscle was perched in a bunch just below my shoulder. Looked really cool like id been pumping iron so long the muscle just stayed flexed. It was just in the wrong place. I was told they usually wouldnt do it for someone my age. But after some convincing and connections I got it taken care. Glad to hear you are doing.

  30. Raul0365

    I had surgery for my right distal bicep tendon. I had surgery on a Thursday and returned to work on Monday. I drove myself to work that day using only my left hand. I got in the right lane and cruise controlled into work I was able to type, but was slower to do so with the movements needed. I was in a cast wrap for a week, then I was in brace. I would only wear it when I was moving around. At my desk and on the couch it came off. Two weeks after surgery I began PT. I also began doing small tasks with my arm. Washing the car, taking out a light bag of fast food, carrying a coke around the house. I’m 8 weeks post op and I go Friday for my final visit. The Dr. told me that my progress was well enough to not mandate a visit in April. My advice is to do small things as soon as you feel capable. The movement is good for your arm. I started working out doing cardio movements mixed with resistance bands. I wish everyone success. My only complaint is the numbness on the lateral part of my forearm. Oh, and my cut was only about two inches straight across. He glued the cut and it looks great. If you live in Houston, check out Dr. Sabonghy of Ironman Sports Medicine. He is a physician for the Houston Rockets as well.

    • Doug Harbaugh

      just a heads up the numbing sensation does get better. I’m 14 weeks post op and the only time it seems the color of is after I do heavier curls or any movements that are a heavier load.

      • Raul0365

        Thanks, Doug. You are right. I’ve noticed that after I work out the sensation increases on my forearm. I’m glad to know that it will eventually go away. I go tomorrow for my release by the doctor. Now resistance band training and lots of exercises at my desk. A stress ball is good simple PT exercise to do at the desk.

    • Tony

      Leon, don’t worry no snakes 😉
      It’s not full anasthesia, just nerve block from your shoulder and they make you sleep afterwards.

      And guys I’m 5 month post op, the numbness is gone 90% though I’m not exercising. Sometimes my forearm hurts though. Anyone else?


      • leon waldo

        Thanks bud, I’m about 6 weeks post op and things seem to be going good. I actually masturbated with my bad arm scuessfully for the first time this week, lol.
        I do still get some bad pain in my forearm area and doing palms up is not great but my PT says I’m ahead of schedule and doing great.
        Good luck my fellow distal poppers.

  31. Mike in Ohio

    This is my second tear of the bicep by the elbow. I tore my right arm in 2007 at work. This time I tore my left one on June 9, 2015 lifting a freezer. I am 3 days out of surgery and my forearm and hand are swollen more than double their normal size. I am experiencing sharp shooting pains, as well as the dull throbbing and aching. Additionally the numbness and tingling in my hand hasn’t eased up. This experience is different than the surgery I had on my right arm. It seems to be worse this time. I don’t know if it is because I am a few years older and my body doesn’t heal as well as it used to, or it there is something wrong. I will be calling my doctor in a couple days to see if he can look at my swelling. Maybe this is normal. I am elevating it and packing it with ice; to no avail.

  32. Robert Crooks

    I came across this blog a few weeks ago and at once found the images both disturbing to look at and so compelling that I couldn’t stop looking 🙂

    I had a distal rupture on my right (strength) arm back in 2012. Surgery went well, anesthetic recovery not so much. Stupidly, I joked with the surgery staff “to make a big as cut as they needed”. What I have is a Harry Potter ‘Z’ a total of 6 inches long. They cast the arm at 90 degrees and after 3 weeks in started physiotherapy and found the pain unbelievable just to move a few degrees. I was a total of 3 months from operation to 100%.

    I started weight training with small 1, 2 and 5 lbs weights after 3 months. Doc said to use less weight, but more reps so I would do up to 100 with each. Muscle looks very good, but I’m confused because the bicep literally begins in the elbow joint now, where I thought there was tendon before.

    Earlier on someone noted about the cast rubbing on their wrist and forearm, I had the exact same thing so much that the night before they removed it I had 9 xtra strength Tylenol to dull the pain. Needless to say I didn’t sleep at all.

    Move forward to 2015. 4 weeks ago I did a Spartan race and hung all my 240 lbs off my left arm on one of the obstacles, which proceeded to make a weird sound like ripping spaghetti. Long story short, distal rupture again. This time the scar is about 2 inches, and after two weeks they removed the cast (which was done at 60 degrees this time). The surgeon gave me supination and extension ROM exercises to do with the aid of my other arm and I stopped using the sling 4 days ago. Aside from the supination (which hurt like a SOB) I don’t have any flexion pain like in 2012. I can extend to with 10 degrees to straight and 5 degrees to the shoulder. Gravity does the best work for flexion, I just let my arm hang down when I’m taking a walk or moving around the house.

    I’m pushing the supination exercises so that I can get to playing guitar again. One non-exercise that I did do from day 4 after surgery was to use my PC. I would rest the cast on the edge of the keyboard and type. The hand hurt like hell for 2 days but I think that is why I have 100% supination clockwise.

    One thing I learned recently is that a normal tendon has a failure load of between 200 and 225 Newtons. After repair, this can increase to as much as 275 Newtons. Strange thing was that for three years I have favored my strength arm when in fact it was actually stronger.

    The outer elbow is tender and I can’t put it on anything hard, but that is getting better as well.

    The only thing I can’t wrap my head around is exactly why it seems like every other muscle in my arm feels like it’s been pulled out, stepped on, and put back in. No numbness at all, just occasional random stinging pain.

    Cheers to all who have gone though it, and here is to being better than before….

  33. Jeff in NEPA

    I love this blog, it made me feel so much more comfortable in the face of this crazy problem. Just had mine done 7/14/15. Thanks for the inspiration Adam.

      • scott

        Just had it done three days ago. Almost waited too long, 3.5weeks after injury. Weird, no pain either at incision or screws, just bicep and wrist, im still in soft cast. Looking for quick recovery. Someone should have instruction booklet on how to dress, shower, etc after these things. I twisted foot getting out of tub an bone popped out of top of foot. Now im left foot and left arm disabled. Augh

  34. Dave

    I was loading my motorcycle onto my flatbed when it slipped and pulled my left arm with it, snapping the tendon from the bone. Hurt like hell at first, but the pain subsided after a few days and the bruising appeared. I live and work in Japan, and it took me a few weeks to find a team of doctors willing to do the operation since there are so few cases of this particular injury here.

    I just had the cast removed three days ago…was on for four weeks. Kind of envious that some of you had smaller incisions and less time in a brace or cast. The docs here were conservative and I got the same Harry Potter Z incision. Also, I had the same issues as some of the other guys…cast hurt like hell often, especially around the wrist and base of the thumb. I was constantly shifting the cast and my arm to reduce the tightness from swelling under the cast, mainly the forearm. Keeping the arm elevated as much as possible helped a bit. I avoided pain meds, but took Mellatonin to help knock me out at night. The cast was set at 70 degrees, with my palm facing up. Forget about typing!

    My rehabilitation consists of: first two weeks out of cast and I am told not to move the arm too much…just let it hang down naturally at my side during the day. It goes against my wish to start moving parts right away, but I was told definitely NO rotating the wrist, absolutely no lifting with only the PT allowed to slowly move and massage muscles and joints during my twice-weekly sessions. The wrist is weak and will have very uncomfortable pain, like it can’t support the hand and feels like it could break at any sudden movement. It feels fragile. I did try moving the wrist forward and backward, and extending, contracting my fingers, but then my wrist and hand swelled and I had to ice them. Anyway, this two-week period is called passive movement, followed by another two weeks of active movement, which is just moving the stiff and painful parts on my own. I can start resistance training after the passive/active periods. Docs say the total recovery time from the operation day is about three months. I take two hot baths a day and this helps relax the arm. The whole top of the forearm from elbow to the base of the wrist is numb.

    This blog helped tremendously, especially the comments and detailed progress reports from everyone. The post-op experiences shared here really go a long way to help prepare for the recovery process, so big thanks to Adam for putting this blog together(was the only one of its kind that I could find), and many thanks to everyone who posted the useful post-op experiences. I probably would have worried a lot more if this blog wasn’t here. Good luck to everyone and I’ll try to add more post-op recovery details in the future.

    • Avitable

      Hey Dave, thanks for thecomment and info – I’m glad that you found the post and the comments from everyone to be useful and to help with your concerns! It was never what I expected when I wrote the post about my own experience, but I’m glad to see it turn into this.

    • Doug

      Find a specialist that uses grafston tools to break up the tissue. really painful but necassary. I went from a pain level of 8 to 0 after one week of treatment. As for recovery be prepared for a full year to return to prior self.

  35. Dave

    Question about swelling and hand movement: This is Dave again (Oct.17 post). Am looking for anyone with similar issues…after my cast was removed I was able to nearly make a fist, but since then my wrist and hand have become a bit swollen and over the past few days my ability to curl my fingers toward making a fist has diminished a lot. In fact, can no longer touch thumb and forefinger as well. I’m wondering when the swelling will go down…have stopped all stretching of the fingers and wrist and am hoping this is temporary? Any similar stories with positive outcomes are greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    • Doug

      Pronation pain is common. Remember they drilled through a bone and attached a tendon. When prorated you’re putting more stress on the area and the radial nerve. Rehab rehab rehab and find a therapist who will do soft tissue work and uses grafston tools. Very important to break up the scar tissue through the whole arm.

      • leon waldo

        My PT did grafton work every time I was there, it hurt like shit be my scar is smooth and I have zero pain.
        I’m 22 weeks out and I feel I can do anything at this point. I draw a 70lb bow with no problem and I’m looking forward to swinging a bat again. Good luck my fellow distal detached dudes.

    • JWbland

      So am I Matthew! Pronation is VERY painful distal posterior forearm area!
      Had distal bicep tendon repair in Jan 8th.
      Full supination, almost full extension and full flexion. But constant pain in distal posterior forearm – especially when I try to pronate. Are you taking pain pills?
      My first post op MD visit is in a couple days, and I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining, but this can be some serious pain man.

  36. Greg

    Thanks for the site. I’m 4 months post surgery and having very little difficulty. I returned to work 2 weeks post op ( Desk work ). The first few weeks post op were the worst. PT helped alot, so don’t skip! I had full range of motion back 6 weeks post op. The weird radial nerve irritation also was gone by 6 weeks. Was happy the day I could take off my brace permanently. It sill hurts a bit if I over do it. Good luck to everyone!

  37. Shawn

    Hi Adam, thanks for the post. I was wondering if you had any lingering issues after 2 yrs?Also, If you don’t mind saying how much was the surgery out-of-pocket? I have to have this done soon due to an unfortunate racquetball game.

    • avitable

      My arm will fall asleep sometimes when I sleep in certain positions, but that’s it. Otherwise, it feels just as good as always. The surgery was only $5K because I paid for it up front and didn’t have insurance.

  38. Tony

    Hey Adam, everyone,
    It’s been exactly a year since I torn my tendon and -15 days from the op. I can say that my arm is 95% back I don’t stress it, 2 month ago I started mild weight lifting, just 2kg. It feels better but the numbness is always there, and sometimes I still feel the pain in my elbow.
    Next week I will increase the workout a bit and hopefully I get the muscle back in strength, the shape is there byte no power in it .. It’s like a marshmallow :))

    This blog helped me a lot, comments from everyone was very helpful, hope you guys all get better asap.

    Cheers everyone.

  39. Taylor

    Well I lift heavy weight never have any issues. Until playing tag football three days ago and someone didn’t see my arm trying to secure the football and ran through it with a maniacal laugh. I knew immediately that my bicep was torn because it went from being on top of my arm to someplace underneath it. I went to see the hot masseuse, and she said ew, so that didn’t go well. Good thing the nurse practitioner was pretty hot 50 something, but she said ew and referred me to a male doctor. So I get to see if he’s hot and will say ew. Today they call me for the MRI. How long until you started regaining normal strength and ROM.

  40. Jay

    Hi thanks for all the info.
    Just had distal bicep tendon repair. Last week. I’m lucky with minimal pain. Stopped the pain meds the first night. Full finger movement, no apparent numbness so far.

    My first postop appointment in coming up. Due to getting the run around from the place I’m supposed to get fitted for my rom brace. I am going to bring one in to my postop appt.
    My question is what type of rom brace everyone has been using?
    Single or double hinge?
    Thanks for the info

  41. Rachel

    Hi Everyone,

    This blog has been a great help, but I figured I best add my experience just to show that ladies can have this problem too 🙂

    Well, I am now 11 weeks post op having ruptured my left distal bicep getting out the swimming pool (right arm slipped so all weight was on my straightened left arm) in Oct 15.

    I was fortunate in that I ruptured my bicep on the Friday and had surgery the following Wed, so only a few days between rupture and repair, I was made aware that the quicker the surgery the better the recovery.

    My repair was done using the endobutton method and I have a 2″ straight scar across my forearm, near my elbow. I also had a nerve block, anaesthetic and anti-inflammatory pain relief.

    Post op I woke up to my arm in a cast and sling. The cast came off after a week and I had to wear my sling until 6 weeks post op. I wasn’t fitted with any brace at all.

    From an exercise perspective I was told to rotate my hand palm and palm down 3 times every hour and practice straightening my arm assisted with my good arm once per hour. By 3 weeks post op I had full rotation and extension of my arm.

    I have been really fortunate with the rehabilitation of my arm, my physio even said she was amazed at how much movement I had so soon.

    Only problem I still have is that I get sharp pains in my wrist in the area below the base of my thumb and have a numb area that extends from the wrist just below the base of my thumb to 1.5″ below my scar. To help, I have been massaging the scar and down my forearm but not had much improvement yet.

    I have been told that the numbness may or may not go with time as a nerve was knocked during my surgery (risk I was warned about beforehand).

    • Ron

      Hi Rachel. I’m about 8 weeks post op and I also have a sharp pain by the wrist and some numbness to within about three inches of the scar. I see the doctor again on Thursday. The pain and numbness are a lot better than they were a couple of weeks ago. Good luck.

  42. Dave

    Rachel…I have the same issue with the numbness along the top of my forearm and base of the thumb. I’m just shy of 16 weeks post-op and it feels a lot less numb than it did a few months ago. I’ve also been told that most of the numbness will go away after about a year. In my case, I ended up with an inability to fully make a fist…I can barely grasp a dumbbell bar. I’ve seen a few different PTs but everyone had a different opinion…some thought it was muscle/tendon tightness that would loosen up with rehab, others thought it was nerve damage, and I always thought it was due to a tight cast. The pain has subsided, but the lack of grip power always gets me down…especially coz I have a small farm in the countryside where I built my own house and garage by hand…and I really want to use the tools normally again.

    I wrote a few long posts here and on some other forums, searched the Internet a few hours each day, hoping to find someone with a similar story(and a successful outcome), but couldn’t find anything like my hand issue.

    Anyway, everything else about the surgery seems fine…the bicep looks good compared with the good arm, and I can lift and do a lot of other things normally, including typing, cooking, and some woodwork. The hand and fingers often get super numb when I am asleep…and takes about 30 minutes before it feels normal again.

    Good luck to you, and everyone else here…and I am still optimistic that the hand function will return at some point. Sayonara.

    • Rachel

      Just a quick update… Saw my pt on Tuesday… She checked my movement, and she said it looks like the small tendon from base of thumb to wrist may have shortened whilst my arm was less mobile in the cast and that my using my arm more now may have irritated the tendon… So I now have some small stretching exercises to do for tendons in wrist and so far they seem to be helping the pain… As to the numbness I’ve been told nerves grow back 1 millimetre per day hence it takes ages for numbness to resolve … Just got to keep massaging my arm to stimulate the nerves too grow

  43. Rob

    Long story short, I believe I slightly tore my distal bicep tendon in 2007 but could never get a proper diagnosis. Fast forward to 2015 and I tore it either again or more. Had surgery a week ago with the Doc citing a 90%+ tear. Though since it was still in good shape having not actually ruptured they were able to get an excellent arm extension after the Endobutton repair. No cast or brace. Just wrapped in bandage and in a sling. Saw the Doc next day and he said I can extend to about 120 degrees immediately but assisted. Checked with them a couple times this week and they are pleased I have good assisted ROM.I bring my arm in and out of the brace to be comfortable, but keep it supported. Unfortunately I ended up with PIN Palsy from retracting the nerve. Cannot spread my fingers and grip is weak. All studies indicate it will resolve in 30-120 days. Wearing a brace for the hand instead of the bicep. Happens in 3% of these…lucky me. 🙂

  44. Dave Prucha

    Dave here…thought I’d share the latest regarding my progress. Remember I couldn’t make a fist since my arm came out of the cast at 4 weeks post-op…well, since my surgeon cleared me for resistance training at exactly the 16-week post-op mark on Jan. 11, he eased my fears about nerve damage by showing me that I could touch my forefinger and thumb into a circle, move my two middle fingers downward toward the palm, and my pinky finger did not drop when I held my hand straight with fingers extended, in a handshake position.

    This, he explained, shows there was no damage to the radial, median and ulnar nerves, respectively. He then told me that since I could do passive ROM with my good hand by pressing the fingers into a fist, I should do it about 100x per day throughout the day. Amazing but it finally loosened everything up and I can make a weak but strengthening fist without assistance starting yesterday. Relieved is an understatement!!

    For the past few weeks, I notice I can move and pick up things without thinking too much about the arm damage. Things, in general, are feeling pretty darn normal again for the first time since this injury late August last year.

    Also, the doctor re-attached the bicep in what seems exactly where it was before, so except for the scar I expect the weight-lifting will bring the balance and look back to where things were post-op. I think the hardest part of this entire operation and post-op recovery has been the cultural difference in approach between Japanese and American doctors(I live in Japan and had the operation here)…Japanese doctors don’t say a lot, and neither do the PTs here. I mistook their lack of worry for indifference, but now I can see I worried myself needlessly. I can say to all here that you should trust your doctors and PTs, do what they say, and above all, let time heal the body…because it will heal…takes a helluva long time but things do go back pretty much to the way they were over time.

    If I remember, I’ll post here again with some final comments in 3 to 6 months(after all, it was all of the posts here that gave me a lot of encouragement). Good luck to those about to take the operation, and those still in those tough months post-op.

  45. Matt Hilton

    I’m anticipating having this surgery (ruptured my distal biceps yesterday). I’ve poured over all the info I can find on the net. This was a very useful blog. The one question I can’t find an answer to is, with the brace, post-op, will I be able to write? My rupture involves my dominant arm, and my job requires I write. I know it will be awkward, but does the brace allow the wrist/fingers free to at least write?

      • Matt Hilton

        I guess an other concern is driving. The affected arm is my left. I drive a standard transmission (6-speed) Trans Am. Looks like my wife will be escorting me. That’s not a problem, though. She doesn’t work outside the home and thus has a fluid schedule. I suppose there will be several things that crop up that I hadn’t thought of: I make coffee 3 times per day using a French press (that may be tricky). I’m the treasurer of a small church. We still use checks, so I’m writing lots of checks in advance to compensate.

    • Matt

      My operation was straight forward. I was in a cast for two weeks. That first two weeks you need to just relax and not use that arm or hand for anything. Talk to your surgeon. Do what he says. For myself I was not able to write for the duration I wore my cast. When they took the cast off it was very difficult. I couldn’t write properly for at least a month. It still feels strange due to the numbness. I would go into the operation with the knowledge that there may be some nerve damage which should pass with time. I’m 8 weeks post op and I have a numb streak from below my thumb straight to my incision point. Mine happened at work. I’ve been off work since the rupture. My advice to you is take a couple weeks off. Just relax. You’ll also need to learn how to wipe your butt with the opposite hand.

  46. Dave Prucha

    Wow! Haven’t used this site much recently, so I cringe thinking of someone out there about to undertake this op! It’s been 7.5 months and I practically do not think about the arm or hand anymore. Back to normal, active life. But for 3 or 4 months I was a mess wondering if I would have full use of the entire arm. Nerves will get compressed during the operation as they will need to be isolated and pushed away from the repair area. My arm was in a cast for four months, and was not allowed to use it much for up to 4 months post-op. About writing…my doc set my cast with my hand facing up…it made a big difference in recovering my pro/supranation movements…but I couldn’t write or type in the position. Even after the cast came off…the nerves and numbness from point of incision down to base of thumb made it difficult to use, but with practice the typing was back to normal in two months. Bottom line…prep mentally for 4 to 6 months to recover, and follow doctor’s advice. I think I expected a faster recovery because I am active, but the body needs time. Esp this type of injury…good luck!

  47. matt

    My cast went from the wrist to 6″ up the back of my elbow. I had to wear it for 2 weeks. For the first 4 days I was pretty drugged so I just washed my hair and face hanging over the side of the tub. After I wasn’t feeling dizzy I taped a garbage bag over it and held it up. Try to keep moving during the recovery and don’t stress your good arm. I overstressed my good arm compensating. You will not be allowed to use the repaired arm for anything for 12 weeks minimum.

    • leon waldo

      I’m headed to my docs office right now to see if I need to have this surgery. Was moving my boat into the garage and it popped. The thing that is making me very depressed is that I had the same surgery almost a year ago on my other arm! Did that swinging a bat. I had no bruising on this one and can feel the tendon so I’m hoping for the best. Ugh! !

      • Matt

        It will still probably be necessary to have done. If you hear the noise it’s not a good thing. Mine was a partial buy almost complete year. I’m young he said. I have a physical job and not to do it would have limited me for life. I would have had to find a desk job. You know the drill. I had an ultrasound to find an issue. I had a mri to confirm. He gave me my options but it was a no brainer to get it fixed.

        • leon waldo

          Agreed, if surgery is an option I’m doing it. general recovery seems to be about as long anyway and the other arm healed so well so I know how successful it an be.

        • Matt

          I don’t know if you’re lucky or not. I was in a half cast for two weeks. When they took it off the surgeon said I’m allowed to move it but not lift anything until the 12 week mark. After 6 weeks I went to Physio and started to stretch it. I was straight and full pronation and supination by maybe the 8 week mark.

          • Luke Wittman

            I’m now 4 weeks from the procedure and my recovery is beyond good. My PT has me stretching and doing some tricep pull downs already. I’m able to do stand up push ups as well. Makes me nervous to be pushing it this soon but on the other hand I want to heal quick so being a bit aggressive seems to be the way to get that done. The ASTYM is really painful but my incision is doing great and my nerve pain is almost completely gone. Hope everyone else is healing well!

  48. 120inna55

    I had my repair 5 days ago. Mine ended up being far more extensive partly due to the fact that my distal tendon folded up underneath and wrapped around the biceps, thus he had to open up directly over the biceps at my upper arm and manually manipulate it (unwrap it). Then the suture snapped as he pulled through the bored hole requiring a second button. Then there was the small issue of a cephalic vein aneurysm rupture…details here: http://www.matthilton.net/2016.05.01_arch.html#1462391775750

  49. R brown

    Sigh……. Hey I had this distal bicep tendon repair back in April-2016 I’m 4weeks in on healing! My range of motion is dam near straight so I’m sure it’s healing well, my real concern is I can’t open my hand or extended my fingers or give a thumbs up…..!!!!!! Has any1 had this problem?

    • matt

      Mine was done February 16. A nerve in the arm was compressed because it’s directly above the place of tenden reattachment. I still have some nerve damage but I think it’s finally starting to get better. Some days are worse than others. You may have some scar tissue around the nerve. I’ve read it before. It will take a long time to recover. Once you’re allowed to use it again as in physio strengthening it should come back. What does the surgeon say?

  50. farrokh khodadadi

    i had the same surgery 5wks ago, i was wondering if you regained full utility of your arm and how many weeks it took to resume normal activities without any limitation or pain.

    • Matt

      That arm is going to be a min of 12 weeks before you can think about lifting anything heavier than a coffee. At least that’s what my surgeon said. I was allowed to go to Physio for stretches at 6 weeks post op and was able to start strengthening at 12 weeks post op. I have a bit of nerve damage from the incision to the base of my thumb. It’s gotten a bit better with time but still hurts when I use it a lot. Feb 16 2016 was my surgery date. My advice it to take it real slow. Don’t get impatient. I’ve read that others have had to wear a rom brace but I didn’t get that. When he took my half cast off he said start moving the arm to regain the range of motion. It’s still stiff at the end of supination but no longer with pronation.
      Sorry if this was long winded. Just hope it helps.

    • Luke Wittman

      I had my right arm done last May and I have no issues with it, did everything the doc and PT said and it turned out great.
      Just had my left arm done last week, in the ROM brace now and hoping for the same success. Good luck.

      • Matt

        Luke. Do you weight lift? How is it that you had to have the other one done? This is a thing that I’m worried about. Hoping I don’t have to do then other one.

        • Luke Wittman

          Yes I do lift and play vball, softball, etc. I did my right arm playing softball and the left trying to get my boat into the garage. Doc said she sees this in a lot of middle aged men who try to do too much…..ouch.

          • rbrown

            just saw the Dr after 6weeks n my arm is looking good,! i still got 6weeks of therapy to strenthen my arm! but listen i cnt open my hand still!!! WTF….. has any1 had this problem!!!?? im really concern that i cant n after 6weeks my arm is better BUT MY HAND isnt

          • Matt

            It’s the nerve the surgeon had to move to get at the repair location. It’s been pulled or damaged in some way. Have you started Physio yet? They will probably have you open and close it with your other hand. I had a slightly harder time moving my thumb and forefinger for only a few days. I’ve read that a second surgery had to be done for some to remove scar tissues that formed around the nerve. I’m still numb from my incision to the base of my thumb and forefinger. Hopefully time will heal us both.

  51. Gordon

    I’ve done the same thing… Gutted 😐
    What’s the maximum amount of time between injury date and operation date? Nhs are slow over here in the uk and I’m starting to panic now… Waiting to see the specialist on 24th of this month… Injured on 12th 😐😐😐

    • matt

      So e doctors won’t do the surgery after 4 weeks because you will need a graft from a dead body. Dont leave it. Don’t wait. If this happened I would insist to see him sooner.

  52. Mike Perry

    Tore my distal bicep tendon a week ago. I am a weight lifter but I tore it picking up a steel trash can. I reached down and grabbed the bottom edge so my arm was completely stretched out. It was a little heavy so I just dug in and pulled. It was more of a ripping than a pop. I knew what it was because it happened to my father years ago. Even still, to have it happen Saturday morning on a holiday weekend meant I couldn’t get seen until Tuesday at the earliest. It was a long, unnerving weekend. This blog gave me some great insight and comfort. I had my surgery yesterday and now just need to mend and rehab. I was in terrible health and condition three years ago but made a complete lifestyle change and I’m in great shape today. Going to have to make some changes to my program going forward but I have a plan. I am self pay and getting a firm price was very difficult. Spent all day Tuesday on the phone. The biggest savings is to have it done at a surgery center rather than a hospital. I did have to get general anesthesia, the surgeon insisted, but I think my total bill will be about 8k. Considering everything and everyone involved in the procedure I thought it was a deal.

  53. Steve R

    I tore my distal bicep tendon in my left arm and all three proximal hamstring tendons in my right leg water skiing July 5th. I had surgery to repair both arm and leg on July 15th. I also tore the Bicipital Aponeurosis, but did not have surgery to repair. I am nine weeks post op and feeling great. My only issue is my bicep sets higher on my arm. Doc said that it was because of where is was reattached. I almost passed out at the time of injury. The arm hurt but the leg was unbearable. The first month of recovery was horrible. Couldn’t put weight on the leg and could only use one arm for the crutch. Thank god I am an avid weight lifter and could use my good arm to assist with walking. So going into week 10 I’m pretty happy with my recovery. I have numbness from my wrist to the incision. But it is getting better. Also, I am working with a trainer to start lifting weights by working around my injuries. I am using the bands for my bicep and very light pull lifts. However, I’m about 50% of my pre-surgery weight on my presses. The bicep is used as a stabilizer for press movements. So I am careful not to use barbells or dumbbells for theses lifts as they require a lot of stabilization. I haven’t done any lifting with my bad leg other than toe raisers during PT. This injury’s recovery time is doubled compared to the bicep. My only concern is the placement of the tendon and the higher sitting bicep as I mentioned above. Aesthetically, it doesn’t bother me. However, I’m worried about the strength once I’m cleared to go 100%. Any comments on this would be greatly appreciated.

  54. Andreas

    Hi i just wanted to find out if you can have this operation using a local anastasic/nerve block instead of a general anesthetic? I have my op due next week and if I’m honest I’m bricking it about having a general anesthetic. What’s the normal for this operation. And can it be done when you’re awake.

    • Matt

      I don’t believe that was an option. Mine was about an hour operation but my wife said I was in for 3 or more. Prep time I guess. I got a nerve block and was put out. Just let them put you out and get it done.

  55. Terry Good

    Wow what a great blog. I had a near complete tear of my left bicep on 2/6. I am active in the gym and in fantastic shape (cardio, weights and swim 5x a week. 45 y/o male.

    I went to lift a really light box but was on a wired angle. The box was behind another box and since it was light I decided to completely torque my body over and fully extend my leading arm to get under it. I would say there was only a few pounds of load (less than 10) and felt my whole arm pull like a cord and waver inside. I felt a snap, and felt like a Charlie horse and was thriving in places that you couldn’t see. It was painful. Although I didn’t know how serious it was. Went to urgent car and they said likely a sprain. Didn’t get better so had a friend who got me into his ortho and right away he knew what it was.

    I was broken when I learned about future limitations and or surgery and long recovery. There goes being active for a long time. The good news is that I landed at one of the best orthos around that specializes in hand and arms and this procedure and was able
    To fit me in for surgery right at the end of the suggested timeframe for doing it on 2/28.

    Coming out of surgery hurt like a mofo! Pain meds for 4-5 days and then tried to ween off because of side effects. I am at the 14 day mark and go into my first post op appointment tomorrow. I have a cast in and can’t wait to get this smelly itchy thing off.

    I have set me expectations that I won’t even be able to use this arm except to type for three months but am betting fatigue will be a factor and will likely use dictation software to do about 80% of the typing.

    I have no hand pain or arm pain just seems like fatigue and seems to have poor circulation (likely because of the cast). I was instructed to sleep with arm up and can’t wait for that to end as well.

    Have made some adjustments to one arm life. I live alone. Here are some suggestions. Have someone come over and make big batches of soup (healthy) and freeze in portioned containers. I also do a massive juicing (kale, beat, celery, etc) and again freeze portions. I defrost a portion each day. It makes sure that while sitting around I am eating healthy with minimal effort. Can do this with other things but this is really easy to pour and heat.

    Other things. Forget being able to do dishes, plan on wearing sweat pants and slip on shoes. I got “lock laces” on Amazon that turns my regular sneakers into slip ons.

    Showering isn’t that hard actually. Bag the arm if needed. I hung a belt in the shower rod to rest my arm. The night before surgery mounted a dispenser system in the wall. The toughest thing is cleansing the bad arm but you can get someone to help that as needed and only that part so it isn’t odd.

    Also I put a couple of smart lights and locks in place so I don’t have to get up as much. Can’t believe I didn’t do that sooner regardless. Have no idea what my next phase will be will find out tomorrow but will take it slow and hope to have a brace as my biggest risk is forgetting and grabbing something when I shouldn’t…

  56. Ben

    So has anyone who has had this surgery had a manual labor type job? I’m a firefighter and am just wondering when I can expect to be 100% for the job? I know when I get “cleared” I will still probably have some work to do to get back to full strength. Surgery is thursday.


      Had both mine done, the right popped on May 2015 the left May 2016. Needless to say I’m looking forward to turning the calendar to June!
      My right arm is at full capacity after 2 years and my left is prob 95% after one year with zero limitations. It’s just not as strong as the right and does get sore if I really work it.
      Good luck bud, thanks for risking your life to save ours!

  57. Al Somers

    All good info. I just had my right arm distal done yesterday. Waiting for block to wear off 18hrs post op. A little concerned there. Took couple PKs last night before sleep but think i’ll hold off on any others till block wear off or pain sets in. Any others experience long time for block to wear off. Also wondering how long before I can swing a golf club assuming my hand/fingers are functional.

    • Nate

      I tore mine on the 7th of June this year and had the surgery on Tuesday June 20, 2017 . It took until that Friday for the block to wear off. I have been extremely careful with it however I have been able to be sling-less due to tolerability since probably the Monday after surgery. I was able to treat all of my pain with otc advil however I still have some movement restrictions due to pain when bent into some situations. I still couldn’t swing a club or throw a ball if I wanted too. Luckily I am a bit ambidextrous and can use my left to its full potential.

  58. Al S.

    Update: it’s 7/9/17 and been about 1-month post Op.; I’ve shagged the mobility brace over last few weeks except when I drive or go out in public. Arm seems to work awesome and it’s very difficult not to lift stuff, but trying to keep reminding self. DR. says 2 weeks I start physical therapy. They say I’ll start with 5LBs and it will be hard. I find that crazy but we’ll see. He also said we can talk about golf in 2 weeks too.. BTW my blocker wore off about 2 hours after my 1st post that day… so IDK say 24-36 hrs post Op.; did not need many PK’s…

  59. Bobby

    WOW.. This is really encouraging … i tore left, luckily im Right Dom, did not get in to Dr. for 2 mos. never heard POP,, Never really hurt,,, but, MRI revealed it was tore loose and retracted up in arm… Dr. said after an hour searching He found it, was able to stretch back in place (without cadaver parts),, whewww that worried me!!! All seems well now, as i am 11days post op… staples out today, placed in a ROM splint… However my wrist aches with any movement, is this common???? I feel as If, it was sprained.. and was not having any pain prior to Surgery… the BLOCK WORKED EXCELLENT!! oh, and for the one that asked cost… mine was estimated at $$ 30,000.00… please let me know if wrist pain is common.. thx

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