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Old 08-11-2012, 11:58 AM   #1
Barry Scott
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Partial Distal Bicep Tear

Hi All,

Almost 6 weeks ago, while deadlifting with a switch grip, I felt a pop and then a tear in the bicep of the under-hand, which is my dominant hand. There was almost immediate bruising, a loss of strength and the bicep moved upwards a little.

After an MRI I was told that there was a partial distal tear in the bicep, but being that it was a partial tear and not a full tear no surgery was needed, just rest.

For the most part my arm feels fine but I still get pain when the arm is in a supinated position and I try to lift anything heavy or when it is jerked (shaking someone's hand, for example). I am really keen to return to crossfit but am a bit worried about cleans, pull-ups etc.

I was wondering if anyone else had a similar experience and how was the recovery? Any help or advice would be invaluable as most of the information I have found online is from people who have undergone surgery.

Last edited by Barry Scott : 08-11-2012 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:45 PM   #2
Jacob Burns
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Re: Partial Distal Bicep Tear

Hey Barry,

I've had partial ruptures in both arms. One playing hockey, the other doing chin ups (under grip). I didn't have surgery on either and rehabbed pretty much both on my own. Here's what I did (I'm no doc/physical therapist so take it for what it's worth):
1. I rested the arm for about 2 weeks, applying a lot of ice, LIGHT stretching and massaging the area as well as the area around. I also used a stress ball to squeeze pretty my all day to keep my forearms strong(note that throughout the whole process, whatever I did with the injured arm, I did with the "good" arm, no matter how light or trivial it seemed).

2. After about the second week I started to do LIGHT curls with dumbbells. Regular curls, hammer curls, reverse curls 3 days a week as well as supination/pronation movements. Again extremely light. At this time, along with the stretching/ice protocol, I also started to apply heat on days that I did not do curls.

3. I did more than the usual amount of pressing exercises. Not only because that is all I could really do, but also to ensure the surrounding areas (shoulder/tricep/chest) stayed strong and didn't atrophy from lack of use.

4. After about the 8th week and I was "ready" to return to normal exercises(no pull ups) I made sure to apply heat to both biceps and stretch thoroughly prior to working out. I also did this in the earlier weeks. One thing I did with deadlifts is for a while I switch to an overhand grip for both hands and used a hook grip.

As a point of reference time wise, the arm I injured doing pull ups was injured in November. I did not do an unassisted pull up until July of the following year. I subbed banded pull ups and ring rows.

Again, I'm not a doc, just did my own research and listened to what my arm was telling me and tried to be patient. Let me know if you have any other questions. I'm sure I'm forgetting something.
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Old 08-11-2012, 03:40 PM   #3
Barry Scott
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Re: Partial Distal Bicep Tear

Thanks Jacob.

I spoke to a physiotherapist but they too said that they only had experience of rehabilitating people after surgery so much of it would be just listening to the body, so your experiences as well are very useful.

Do you have a full range of motion now? When did you start doing banded pull-ups and ring rows? I tried doing some rows with a kettlebell and found that there was pain even whilst using quite reasonably weights.
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:16 PM   #4
Sean Rockett
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Re: Partial Distal Bicep Tear

I have had a lot of experience with partial and complete tears. For partials you try conservative management first and the previous program of going light and being patient is a good one. If after several months things are not where you like or you feel pain and weakness that inhibits what you do recreationally or professionally then you have a decision to make about reattaching it. Remember there are different degrees of partial tears and sometimes MRIs do not give you all the information that you need. One. On earning feature is that you said your biceps shifted usually a small partial tear does. Of allow your biceps to. Hangs appearance or position. Does that make sense?
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:36 PM   #5
Jacob Burns
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Re: Partial Distal Bicep Tear

I started assisted pull ups and ring rows about 10 weeks out. I still had pain but I was careful to know the difference between acute pain, that would be possibly causing further damage, and pain that was from doing work with the arm. I really went by feel. If pain was only during the movement, I was good to go. If pain persisted for 30 seconds to a minute after the movement, I'd call it a day and ice down.

As for ROM, I did lose a little extension. That's why now I make sure I warm up my arms and stretch a lot prior to working out.
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Old 08-12-2012, 07:05 AM   #6
Jacob Burns
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Re: Partial Distal Bicep Tear

This is what I was looking for. I borrowed some from Bill Starr too:

WFS
http://www.daddystrength.com/2010/03...ehab-protocol/
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:35 AM   #7
Barry Scott
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Re: Partial Distal Bicep Tear

Thanks very much Jacob and Sean. I really appreciate all the help. Guess a bit of patience is needed on my part!
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Old 08-12-2012, 10:36 AM   #8
Sean Rockett
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Re: Partial Distal Bicep Tear

Wow I have to proofread my replies on my iphone, that last sentence was supposed to read. MRIs do not always give you all the information that you need. One disconcerting feature is that you said your biceps shifted and usually a small partial biceps tear does not allow your biceps to pull up noticeably or change postition.
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Old 08-12-2012, 06:49 PM   #9
Barry Scott
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Re: Partial Distal Bicep Tear

Thanks for clarifying Sean - you were kind enough to reply so wasn't going to criticise!

I don't know if it makes any difference but for 1 or 2 weeks after the tear my bicep was constantly bulging, as if I had flexed it. There was a definite movement upwards although it seems to have moved back into its normal position.
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