Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

Two months ago I had a ruptured biceps tendon repaired in my shoulder. The surgeon says my activities will be restricted for at least another month. I thought it takes about six to eight weeks for healing to take place. What's taking so long?

Answer:

Doctors often say it would be better to break a bone than tear a tendon. Bone heals fairly consistently in four to six weeks. Minor soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains take six to eight weeks. But restoring tendon to bone is another matter.

Studies show it usually takes 12 weeks for a tendon to bone interface strong enough to resist the pull of resistance and load of everyday movements. During this time the soft tissue goes through three separate phases of healing.

In the first six to eight weeks, blood and inflammatory cells fill in the gap made by the tear. Then blood vessels form to help remove debris. Finally collagen cells start to form in the area. For the next four to six weeks, tendon fibers form, then fibrocartilage. In the final step of this process the tendon-bone interface must calcify or harden.

The healing rate varies from patient to patient. It depends on your natural healing rate, your overall health and nutrition, and the type of surgery done to repair the injury.

The last thing you want is for the srepair to tear. Be patient with your body as it is healing as fast as it can. In fact 12 weeks is really a minimum of time. Many studies show final healing can take six to nine months.

Edward G. McFarland, MD, et al. Suture Anchors and Tacks for Shoulder Surgery, Part 1. Biology and Biomechanics. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. December 2005. Vol. 33. No. 12. Pp. 1918-1922.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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