Long head of biceps torn

Posted , 4 users are following.

Hi, I'm 12 weeks into rehabbing my non-dominant shoulder for a complete tear of my biceps tendon. Unfortunately, I have at some time in the past torn 3 of 4 tendons of my rotator cuff, so my entire shoulder has been acting up as a result.

I work as a nurse and I know this has been a long time coming. I have seen marked improvement with physical therapy, but am seriously worried about re-injury. There is no light duty where I work. Once I'm back I'm totally back in the fray of things. I see my ortho doc in 2 days, and don't know whether to push for more time off. I'm pretty confident with deliberate, thought-out movements, but I work in an operating room where you might have to do something automatically without forethought. Patients can be combative when emerging from general anesthesia, and I might have to suddenly hold/restrain an arm or a leg.

Does anyone have any experience with this? I just came from PT where I'm working a lot on using my affected arm and right now it's killing me, not at the bicep but across the top of my shoulder.

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7 Replies

  • Posted

    See if you can qualify for a Superior Capsular Reconstruction.

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    • Posted

      Thanks, I hadn't heard of that procedure. Just read up on it with this: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6372269/ . I know both my doc and physical therapist had said that long term results of other arthroscopic repair, although superior to physical therapy initially, ended up with the same result long term. I don't know if they were including this procedure. The doc didn't think I was a candidate for surgical repair.

      I did have an arthroscopic repair of an acutely torn supraspinatus and infraspinatus of my dominant arm after a fall on black ice. It was a very long rehab, and it's great now as far as function and range of motion, but to be honest I'm not eager to live through that post-op experience again. I will mention SCR on Friday when I see him, thanks again.

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    • Posted

      This procedure, Superior Capsular Reconstruction, can be applicable in cases of irreparable rotator cuff, or ones that are likely to re-tear (where it sometimes can be performed in conjunction with rotator cuff repair). I believe that many doctors are not that familiar with it; it is a new technique which requires specialized skill.

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    • Posted

      I'm fortunate enough to live in a metro area thick with teaching hospitals and very skilled surgeons, and if the sports medicine doc I'm seeing thinks I might be a candidate, would most likely contact the surgeon who did the other shoulder. Even if my sports doc doesn't consider me a candidate, depending on his rationale, I may still make an appointment to have the surgeon look at my MRI and make his own decision. You've given me a lot to think about.

      Have you had this done? Or know someone who has? I'm 61 but anticipate at least 5-6 years until I retire, at least from this kind of work.

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  • Posted


    A year and 3 months ago, I had shoulder surgery for torn supra, labrum and bicep. I had tenodesis repair of bicep. It's as good as new now and I think the bicep healed relatively quickly compared to the rotator cuff repair. My surgeon said I should have no issues with it but that was at like the 6 month mark.

    That being said, I think 4-6 months rehab of your bicep to let it heal and strengthen would be a good idea before taking on full load of use on it.

    I guess it depends on what your surgeon says, as I believe they have the last word. Ideally, you as a health practitioner should be able to look the surgeon straight in the face and say, "Doc, I'm a nurse, and you know the physical loads I'm subjected to, when will you release me for full duty? 3 months? 4 months? 5 months? "

    And ideally, the doctor should give you a straight answer.

    I said ideally, but the way insurance works, he may say he's releasing you from physical therapy but not going to qualify it by saying 'you're not really for full duty and should give it another 3 months rest.'

    That's when you can ask him: "Ideally, how long should I rest before going back to full duty."

    Please let us all know what your surgeon says.

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    • Posted

      Congrats on your rehab, I know it's no joke. My repair was 11 years ago and the shoulder is great in every way, thank God. Last week I held (supported) my 5 week old great nephew on my leg, using my injured arm. Big mistake, the bicep just got tired quickly, but that night was pretty bad pain all across my shoulder. These are all the things I have in the back of my mind as I anticipate returning to normal duties.

      I will keep updating, thanks for the reply.

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  • Posted

    Saw my sports medicine doc on the 1st. He wants me to do another month of therapy, then see a surgeon. I'm open to hearing what he has to say, but I think I'd have to be at the point of intractable pain and unable to effectively do my job to consider surgical intervention.

    I had my acutely torn supraspinatus on my "good" shoulder arthroscopically repaired in 2008. I was unable to return to my job for 6 months, so that preys on my mind. It was not a fun rehab.

    I will return to work early Dec., right after I see the surgeon. The only way I'll be able to tell if I can function in my work is to do the work and see. I'll update then.

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