Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

I am an amateur weight-lifter. I like to get together with a group of friends after work and workout together. I ruptured my left biceps muscle (I am right-handed) about two months ago. I've had surgery, and I'm in physical therapy now to get my strength back. What kind of results can I expect when this is all said and done? Can I get back to weight-lifting with the guys?

Answer:

This would be a good question to pose to your orthopedic surgeon. He or she knows the tensile strength of the surgical repair technique used on you. You'll want to ask for a timeline, too. A timeline gives you some idea of where you should be in rehab three, six, nine, and 12-months after surgery. A supervised rehab program is always a good idea. It's very easy to disrupt the healing tendon (or tendon graft if one was used for the repair). Motion is usually restricted with a splint at first and later with a hinged elbow brace. The therapist advances the brace by 10 degrees each week. Only active-assisted motion is allowed at first. That means the therapist guides your arm through elbow flexion (bending) and extension (straightening) and forearm supination (palm up) and pronation (palm down). You actively try to move your arm at the same time the therapist is moving it. Resisted motion to regain strength is started around three months after the operation. This is gradually progressed. The therapist will help you learn how to increase the exercises safely and effectively. By the end of six months, you should be back to all of your regular daily activities without restrictions. Weight-lifting obviously requires more strength than typical daily activities. The therapist will be able to test and measure your strength to give you some idea where you are on the continuum and how close to normal you are. The surgeon usually has criteria for percentage of muscle strength present before weights can be increased. For the most successful results, follow both your therapist's and your surgeon's advice. Don't push too fast, too far or you may not get the optimal outcome needed to resume your favorite activities. L. Pearce McCarty, III, MD, et al. Reconstruction of a Chronic Distal Biceps Tendon Rupture 4 Years After Initial Injury. In American Journal of Orthopedics. November 2008. Vol. 37. No. 11. Pp. 579-582.

*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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