Repair of the distal biceps tendon at the elbow

You have just undergone a distal biceps tendon repair. This is because your distal biceps tendon was torn at the elbow. This tendon usually tears off at the bone insertion (on to the radius bone just below the elbow). 

The following is a picture of normal distal biceps anatomy, as well as a schematic of the repair. 

  • Postoperatively your arm may be in a sling. You can start coming out of the sling straight away with the physiotherapist for exercises. The sling is for comfort only, and you do not have to wear it if you do not find it provides more comfort than not wearing a sling.

  • It is normal to have some tingling or numbness or weakness following your procedure. This is often due to a nerve block performed preoperatively to help with your pain, or with postoperatively injected local anaesthesia. This will wear off in the first day or two.

  • It is very important post-operatively that you work with your therapist immediately in trying to regain motion. You will need to start moving your elbow straight-away to get the best result

  • Please keep your dressing/bandage dry at all times. You may use a plastic bag tied above the elbow to prevent the dressing/wound from getting wet during shower/bathing

  • You may remove the outer bandage after 3 days. there will still be dressing on underneath.

  • Around 2 weeks following surgery, you should have your wound checked. There may be sutures that need to be removed by a doctor or a nurse.

Therapy and movement (0-6 weeks)

  • Starting immediately after surgery, It is important you come out of the sling to try to move your elbow. Bend and straighten your elbow all the way or as much as you can. Hold for 10 seconds at the end of bending and at the end of straightening. Do 10 repetitions of this and do this 10 times a day (100 reps). Focusing in particular on regaining extension (straightening of the elbow).

  • Moving the elbow may be uncomfortable or a little painful, however, it is important you still try to move it.

  • You should wean out of the sling over the next few days and be out of the sling altogether by the end of the first week after surgery. 

  • Most of the time, Kemble will organize for you to see a therapist to help with movement of the elbow and gradual strengthening. This should start within the first week after surgery. 

  • The aim for the first 6 weeks should be to regain full range of motion. 

  • During this first 6 weeks, you should limit weight-bearing to a "cup of tea" weight. However, your therapist may instruct you to use gravity and weight-based programs to help with stretching the elbow out. 

Therapy (6-9 weeks)

  • At this point in time, you should have regained most of your range of motion, particularly important to regain extension (straightening of the elbow). 

  • Do not commence working on strengthening until you have regained 90% of your range of motion.

  • You may return to driving after 6 weeks


Therapy (9+ weeks)

  • Your therapist will work with you on regaining strength at this time. Gradually building up strength over the next few months. 

  • This will involve strengthening of elbow flexion as well as supination (twisting the forearm as in tightening a screw with a screwdriver). 

  • You may return to contact sports at 3 months post-surgery. 

distal biceps repair.jpg
biceps tendon rupture.jpg