How is a distal biceps tendon tear treated?
Conservative treatment options are usually reserved for partial tears or individuals who would not make good candidates for an operation, such as elderly patients. The tenets of the nonoperative treatment of distal biceps tendon ruptures include avoiding heavy lifting, taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories – i.e., ibuprofen), and seeing a physical therapist for the purposes of strengthening surrounding muscles of the elbow and reestablishing normal range of motion. Complete tears are not typically treated nonoperatively.
Surgery should be performed within the first 1-2 weeks after the injury is sustained. During surgery, Dr. Williams reattaches the torn tendon to the bone (radius). Dr. Williams typically uses a single incision technique; the approach is made from the front of the elbow. The tendon is reattached by using anchors and stitches that are placed in small holes drilled in the radius bone. After a week in a splint, patients are placed in a movable elbow hinged brace. Most patients will start moving during week 2 following surgery. All patients will participate in physical therapy for approximately 6-8 weeks following the repair. Full recovery takes 3-6 months.