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Old 05-28-2014, 08:50 AM   #11
Matt A. Windsor
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Re: Distal biceps tendon rupture - recovery?

Yeah, the same thing happened to me, except a bit worse because I've had a shoulder surgery on that shoulder. (Hey - good excuse to get my wife to massage that shoulder, heh heh.)

It got better once out of the sling, of course, but then the pain changes.

My recovery is going excellent. I had my surgery on 12 Feb; I'm about week 15 or so right now. I'm limited to weight on some things, and obviously it'll be a while before I do much dedicated Oly stuff (especially any 'jerking' movements), but other than that, doing well.

My WOD this morning:

Warmup: 30 Russian KBS @ 25#, 400m run
Strength: 5x5 squat @ 75% strength (for me I worked up from 135# to approx. 245#)
WOD: Buyin of 5 wall walks (subbed with 20 or so decline pushups), then 5 RDS of 20 wallballs and 20 V-ups with the same wallball, then a buyout of the pushups

Arm's doing fine. I also did some posthole digging this weekend. LOL

Only thing I can point out is that like I said, you'll make constant and steady progress but it is SLOW because you DO NOT want to rush it. It'll fully attach around week 8 to 12, but at that point it's just attached; it's not 'knitted back together' to the bone. That takes a full 6 to 8 months at LEAST.

But yeah, it gets better quickly. First 2 or 3 weeks suck the most; once you are in the ROM brace it gets immeasurably better, and ditto when you are allowed to not have to wear a brace/sling at all.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:48 PM   #12
Matt A. Windsor
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Re: Distal biceps tendon rupture - recovery?

For those who might be happening into this thread, I thought I'd share some things I've thought about/discovered over the last few months of recovery:

- Basically, darn near EVERYONE I know who has experienced this had their arm at full extension and performing some sort of upward force. For me, I did it lifting a boxspring. (Yes, a boxspring. Let me know when you're done laughing. lol) It has little to do with the actual weight of the object and much more to do with the downward force resisted by the palm turned upward - it essentially forces the distal biceps tendon into a semi-compromised position. It's why you hear about this happening a lot to people doing D/L's, or preacher curls, etc.

- While I am not a surgeon, I will say that it is my belief that if it's torn at ALL, there's no such thing as 'fully recovering' from it. My doctor asked me "OK, pretend you're hanging from a cliff using a stranded nylon rope. One of the strands busts, and a buddy tells you 'It's cool, man - I'll just melt the frayed ends back to the rest of the nylon rope.' Would you believe that would make the 'repaired' rope strong as new?" The answer was an obvious NO for me. Thus, the reason I chose to repair it. (That and it's a bit different when it's torn 90%, vs. 30%. LOL)

- Most people think the biggest issue will be building it back up to strength. I would disagree; for me, it's very easy to build the strength back up. What was MUCH harder was regaining full supination/pronation of that hand. I did it very early, yes, but the reason I did so is because I was told by many who have had this surgery that it would be hard, and I was given exercises to help. The absolute best exercise - believe it or not - is to grab a regular old hammer, and hold it in the hand, unassisted by the normal arm (this assumes you're allowed to do unassisted PT by your doc). You begin 'choked up' on the hammer, and slowly pull the hammer up a bit (moving your hand towards the base of the hammer), and then allow the weight of the head to pull the hand clockwise/counterclockwise. This one exercise literally gave me about 20 degrees of pronation/supination in a day.

- **DO NOT** think you can rush this recovery. You cannot. It is one thing for your muscles to knit back together after surgery; some heal slow, some heal very fast. I heal freakishly fast when it comes to scars and muscle. However, the difference between the fastest and slowest healing person when it comes to tendon reattaching to bone is measured in days at most, and most likely hours. Why?

Because there's a difference between the tendon reattaching to bone (which only takes anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks) and the tendon tissue FULLY reattaching to the bone. During the first few weeks, the repair tissue is more cellular in origin; however, around the week 6 to 10 mark, the repair tissue begins to change over to a more fibrous tissue type. After about the 10 week mark, the fibrous tissue then begins to slowly transform to the scar-like tendon tissue necessary for a full-strength reattachment to the bone, and full healing/maturation of the tendon to the tendon-like material can take as long as a year.

This being said, it is still absolutely necessary to begin PT as soon as the doctor allows you to, and especially to begin using it in the manner in which you plan on using it once fully healed. This is because when the connective tissue is rebuilt, the fibers align in the direction of stress. Therefore, it's necessary to apply said stress (in the form of PT, light lifting, etc., slowly working back up to max).
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:54 PM   #13
Sean Rockett
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Re: Distal biceps tendon rupture - recovery?

Whoa! you can write for my blog with that kind of analysis
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Old 06-06-2014, 09:16 AM   #14
Matt A. Windsor
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Re: Distal biceps tendon rupture - recovery?

Well, I'm an IT guy 'in real life' (when not CrossFitting) and I try to learn as much as I possibly can about things I'm interested in. NOT peeling the distal biceps tendon away from the radius in either arm is one of those things.

When I began to research/study distal biceps tendon tears, I found that there seemed to be a large variety of different recovery 'modes' and opinions. Some docs have you in a cast for WEEKS after surgery; others maybe a week, and then in a sling as needed, and that's it (other than weight limitations). I found *VERY* little in the way of real world advice on when one was 'actually' healed all the way. SO I took that to mean that I really *NEEDED* to learn the actual information behind a) how it happens (the physics of it, I suppose) and b) the biology behind what happens during the healing process.

I just want to share as MUCH information as I possibly can for others who may find themselves going through this in the future. I've had several other surgeries, and this one was the most intimidating one, given what happens and what it affects. Now that I'm @ the week 16 mark, I'm pretty much good to go all-around (other than weight limitations) but early recovery days can be rough, and recovery from a distal biceps tendon tear is NOT like a simple acromioplasty or a carpal tunnel release, etc.

Anyways...sorry for the epic novel. LOL
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Old 06-10-2014, 05:48 AM   #15
Matt A. Windsor
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Re: Distal biceps tendon rupture - recovery?

Feeling VERY good today; it's exactly the 17 week point.

Warmup: 2 rds of 100m row as fast as possible, and 10 jumping air squats
Mobility
Strength: 6x3 squat clean, front squat (e.g., 1 squat clean, 2 front squats)
WOD: 12 min AMRAP, with ascending thrusters & ball slams (I subbed air squat and push press for thrusters). Used 75# for push press, and 40# ball for slams. Got 9 rounds plus 10 push presses.

Feeling VERY good.
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