The biceps muscle is located in the front upper arm, and is attached to the bones of the shoulder and elbow by tendons. Biceps tendon tears are uncommon, but when they do result, restrict full range of arm motion as the tendon will not grow back to the bone and heal. Biceps tendon tears can be partial or complete.
The most common symptom is a sudden, severe pain in the upper arm or at the elbow, depending on injury location. There may be swelling, visible bruising, weakness in the shoulder or elbow, and trouble turning your arm or palm down.
Who is a candidate?
Candidates for surgery are those with a biceps tendon tear, usually caused by sudden injury. Typically, patients have already completed nonsurgical treatment, but are still experiencing symptoms or those that want all of their arm strength back, such as athletes or manual laborers.
Who is not a candidate?
Candidates who have a torn biceps tendon but whose nonsurgical management is sufficient or those who do not require full range of arm motion do not require biceps tendon repair.
Like other surgeries, biceps tendon repair must first be diagnosed during a physical examination, with a discussion of both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options. X-rays may be necessary to rule out other conditions causing shoulder and elbow pain. You should inform your orthopedic surgeon of any medications or supplements you take, and comply with certain general surgery protocol such as preoperative blood testing and possible cessation of smoking or use of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs one week prior. You will likely be asked to stop eating or drinking the night before the surgery.
Immediately after surgery, you will likely feel tired with some pain. Your arm will be immobilized temporarily in a sling for a week, and a sling may be required for 4-6 weeks afterward. Pain and swelling are common, but should decrease with time. A formal physical therapy program (beginning 4-6 weeks after surgery) will also help you as you learn exercises to maintain a pain-free range of motion, and usually lasts for 2 months. Light normal activities and desk work can usully be resumed after 2-3 weeks, but for those whose jobs require manual labor, a full recovery time of 3-4 months will be necessary. Full recovery, including participation in vigorous activity and sports, will likely take 4-6 months.
As with any surgery, there are risks of complications related to infection, damage to nerves and blood vessels, bleeding and blood clots, or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Risks specific to ankle ligament reconstruction include formation of new bone, limitation of arm movement, and re-tearing of the tendon.
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