Distal Biceps Tendon Repair Surgeon

Do you have a job that regularly requires heavy lifting? Are you an athlete who enjoys weightlifting? If so, you may experience a distal biceps tendon tear which occurs when the tendon becomes detached from the forearm at the elbow. Distal biceps tendon repair surgeon Doctor Riley J. Williams provides diagnosis and both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for patients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York City and surrounding areas who have torn their distal biceps tendon. Contact Dr. Williams’ team today!

What is distal biceps tendon repair?

Distal biceps tendon repair is a surgical procedure that is performed to reattach a torn biceps tendon that has pulled away from its attachment site near the elbow. The biceps muscle has two sites of location for tendons:  the proximal biceps tendon which attaches at the shoulder, and the distal biceps tendon that attaches to the radius bone in the elbow. An injury to the distal biceps tendon can cause pain and weakness at the elbow. The injury is commonly sustained during activities that involve lifting heavy objects when the biceps is under tension and the elbow is forced straight. Distal biceps injuries are commonly observed in weightlifters. It is possible to partially tear or fray the tendon, but most distal biceps tendon tears are complete (torn off the attachment site entirely).  Dr. Riley J. Williams, orthopedic elbow surgeon, serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York City, NY and surrounding areas, has extensive experience in performing distal biceps tendon repairs and other elbow procedures.

Distal Biceps Tendon Repair | Manhattan NY

What is a distal biceps tendon tear?

A tear to the distal biceps tendon typically occurs when the arm is forcibly extended straight while under tension. Lifting weights or catching a heavy load can lead to a biceps tendon tear.  Complete tears (the tendon fully detaches from the bone) are common; inflammation and partial tendon tears can also occur but are more associated with overuse injuries. The distal biceps tendon is connected to the radius bone in the forearm. When a tear occurs, there is pain and weakness bending the elbow. Stark weakness in supination of the wrist and hand typically follows a neglected biceps tendon tear; for this reason, surgery is recommended for these injuries. Surgery is performed to regain strength and flexibility in the elbow and biceps muscle.

How is a distal biceps tendon repair performed?

There are multiple methods used to repair a distal biceps tendon tear, and all are done under anesthesia. One method utilizes a single incision at the front of the elbow. Another method utilizes two small incisions at the front and at the back of the elbow. Dr. Williams prefers the single incision approach. The tendon is reattached to the bone by using small holes that area drilled into the natural attachment site of the tendon on the radius. Small devices (anchors, buttons) are used in conjunction with strong sutures to reattach the biceps tendon.  Dr. Williams will discuss the most appropriate approach with you and it is often based on the type of tear experienced.

What are the risks of distal biceps tendon repair?

There is a high success rate for tendon repair surgery, but there are some risks associated with this procedure.  These rare risks may include:

  • Temporary numbness or weakness in the hand or forearm
  • Abnormal new bone formation of new bone
  • Tendon re-rupture

How long does it take to recover from distal biceps tendon repair?

A splint or a cast is common right after surgery to immobilize the elbow and promote healing. This splint is used for a week. After the splint is removed, a movable elbow brace is used to protect the elbow for approximately one month. Dr. Williams allows patients to perform gentle movements of the arm. During this time, physical therapy will be prescribed to regain strength and range of motion. Light exercises can be reinstated shortly after surgery, but heavy lifting should be avoided for 3-4 months. A distal biceps tendon takes a little over three months to heal and regaining full strength and mobility will depend on the severity of the tear. A full recovery of function and strength typically follow this procedure.

For additional resources on distal biceps tendon repair or to have your elbow pain evaluated, please contact the office of Dr. Riley J. Williams, MD, orthopedic elbow surgeon serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York City, NY and surrounding areas.


HSS Sports Medicine Institute West Side
610 W 58th Street
New York, NY 10019

HSS Brooklyn
148 39th Street, 7th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Office Hours

Monday-Friday: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Fax: 212-774-2895