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Injuries and Medical Advice

Biceps: Reattachment Surgery

I had a proximal bicep tear reattachment surgery. However, after two months the tendon tore loose from the insertion point. I can have another surgery or I can just live with it.

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I had a proximal bicep tear reattachment surgery. However, after two months the tendon tore loose from the insertion point. I can have another surgery or I can just live with it. I am 56 and climbing is my way to stay fit. If I have the surgery it will take at least six months (which seems like a long time at my age) until I am able to climb again. Options?

Lynn Purser | Huntsville, Alabama

Six months is the same whether you are 16 or 56. It’s a science thing. You are still in the prime of your life–suck it up, Princess.

Without the bicep attached, you have the cosmetic issue of it sitting just above your elbow, which makes your arm look a bit gammy. This alone would have me running back to the surgeon. I thought that male pattern balding would humble me, but no, my vanity remains as strong as the Jedi Force.

Second, keeping in mind that these are rough numbers and I’m assuming you have ruptured the long head of biceps, you will have some loss of power, which will remain at about 10 percent for elbow flexion and 20 percent for forearm supination (palm down to palm up with the elbow flexed). With surgery, you will regain somewhere between a little and a lot. There will be some loss of shoulder strength but this will not be alleviated by corrective surgery.

I would have the surgery, but I am both vain and rather attached to what little strength I have. In the long term you should be moderately better off having the surgery, assuming you don’t die under anesthetic or lose your arm to a staph infection.

I do wonder why the first operation failed at two months. Was it a rehab issue? Isolate and mitigate that risk before you even consider another operation.

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