How is a distal biceps rupture diagnosed?
An early diagnosis of a distal biceps rupture is best and can lead to better outcomes, especially if surgery is required. During the exam, Dr. Mazzara will take a detailed patient history and perform a thorough exam of the elbow. By feeling the muscle and tendon, he can often tell if the tendon has torn from the bone. An MRI may be used to confirm a diagnosis of partial or complete rupture. If examination does not confirm the diagnosis, Dr. Mazzara may be able to perform an ultrasound in the office during your visit to evaluate the condition of the tendon.
Distal Biceps Tendon Rupture Presentation
How to treat a distal biceps tear without surgery?
Non-surgical treatment of a distal biceps tear is only appropriate for partial tears and patients who are involved in low demand activities, typically elderly patients. This treatment may include rest, immobilizing the arm and managing pain. Many partial tears will not heal and will lead to continuing aching and discomfort with increased pain when then tendon is under stress. These partial tears will eventually lead to a complete rupture.
What are surgical treatment options for a distal biceps tear?
Patients with an active lifestyle may wish to have surgery for a distal biceps tear so they can regain full arm strength. Dr. Mazzara suggests surgery soon after the distal biceps is injured to avoid tendon retraction (when the tendon retreats further up the arm.) When the tendon recoils from it’s original position in the arm and remains there for a time, surgery becomes more difficult and patient outcomes are not as good as when treatment is sought quickly.
There are several surgical options offered by Dr. Mazzara and the method may be determined by the type of tear. Typically, Dr. Mazzara will perform an arthroscopic, small single incision, repair to reconnect the tendon to its correct location on the bone from where it was torn. In cases where the tendon is severely retracted or scarred, a graft may be needed.
After surgery, patients are immobilized with the use a special range-of-motion brace for 4-6 weeks. Careful elbow motion may begin once the tear has started to heal. Physical therapy will then be used to re-establish motion and prevent stiffness. Strengthening exercises will begin when the distal biceps tear is completely healed and under the direction of Dr. Mazzara. Most patients are able to return to their normal activities 12-16 weeks after the injury.
For more resources on a distal bicep tear, or the treatment options for a distal biceps tendon rupture, please contact Dr. James Mazzara, elbow specialist serving patients living in Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford Connecticut communities.