Biceps Tendon Tear

The long head of bicep tendon tears of in the shoulder joint.

A surgical procedure is advised as the bicep tendon will not heal by itself. If left untreated the tendon can retract and it becomes irreparable.

If diagnosed early enough, a Bicep Tenodesis can be done to repair the bicep tendon. We usually do this arthroscopically (“key-hole surgery”). Tiny holes (10mm) are made around the shoulder for passage of the instruments. The bone is made raw to enable the tendon to heal to it. Bone anchors (tiny devices with sutures attached) are drilled into the bone and the tendon is repaired to the bone with the sutures. Healing of the tendon to the bone takes around 6 weeks and even longer to strengthen – up to 12 months.

You can leave the hospital the next day. You will have pain for a few days, for the first day or two it will be controlled with the nerve block, then with painkillers. Most people experience only moderate pain after the arthroscopic repair. You will wear a sling for 6 weeks to protect the repair. During this time, you will not be allowed to do active movements of the arm. You are allowed to use the shoulder if no repair was made to muscles in the shoulder, but you will not be allowed to extend your elbow. After 6 weeks the patient will start with physiotherapy. Initially only movement is regained. Only when movement is regained fully is strengthening of the shoulder allowed.

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For the tendon to heal it should take around six weeks and up to 6 months to strengthen. Full recovery takes one year.