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ruptured biceps tendon
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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Oct 8, 2012
Skiing around.

So I recently ruptured the tendon that connects the long head of the biceps to the shoulder. I am wondering about a couple of things, so if anyone has any information let me know.

1. I am not going to have surgery. I am wondering how long recovery might be to full climbing strength.

2. I have been on a fairly low dose of prednisone for about 2 months. I have heard this might result in these types of injury. I am wondering how careful I need to be about exercise in general.

Anyone with similar situations out there? I would love to hear from you.


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By David Arthur Sampson
Oct 30, 2012
Slap/Tickle

Hi Darren;
I severed my (long head) biceps tendon in 2004. I didn't go to the ER the night I did it, and by the time I could seek medical attention it was too late to "save" my bicep. I miss it, but I still climb. I am not sure "full climbing strength" is a reality or not; I have not been able to climb as hard as I did prior to my injury.

I cannot address item #2.


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By Ben Collett
Oct 30, 2012

I too am a unicep. When it first tore, my big concern was whether there was damage to the labrum in addition to the long head. It seemed worth an MRI to determine that. I have since been able to climb at the same pitiful standard as before the tear. The long head is really only responsible for 10% of flexion. The only moves I notice it on are burly underclings. As far as recovery, it was a couple of months before I was climbing at my limit again, but that may have been self-imposed. I will say that my informal survey of friends with the same issues anecdotally indicates that it should not impede improvement too much.


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Oct 30, 2012

Darren, if the tendon actually fully detached, there will be a certain amount of loss of strength. I don't think there is anyway around that if you don't have surgery.

This is based on personal experience and discussions with my orthopedist.


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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Oct 31, 2012
Skiing around.

Thanks for the insight guys. I tore the labrum too. Been going to PT three times a week for 5 weeks now, getting stronger, but still worried about climbing on it. I still have occasional pain in the shoulder, and wonder if climbing hard again will happen. I'm bummed because this was my best year of climbing ever, and I was convinced I was just going to continue improving. The biggest bummer being an FFA I have been working on for 5 yrs off and on that requires a burly undercling with my now damaged left arm. Oh well....time to pass that one off.

Thankfully easy multipitch is in abundance out here so I can still have adventures. So if any of you guys find yourselves in vegas without a partner, look me up.


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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Oct 31, 2012
Skiing around.

Good to know Simone, my orthopedist recommended PT, not surgery. I was surprised considering they usually want to cut for the $$$.

How long did you wait between the injury and the surgery?


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By Geir
From Tucson, AZ
Oct 31, 2012
Toofast

Darren in Vegas wrote:
Good to know Simone, my orthopedist recommended PT, not surgery. I was surprised considering they usually want to cut for the $$$. How long did you wait between the injury and the surgery?


Hey Darren,

I tore my bicep tendon (Grade I) and utilized PT for recovery (no surgery). I kept climbing during my recovery, but switched to long, easy trad lines and only used the injured arm to balance or place gear. My recovery took about 6 months. After this time I remained careful for an additional 6 months or so. That was several years ago and I now feel no difference in strength between the injured arm and the uninjured arm.


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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Oct 31, 2012
Skiing around.

Thanks Geir,
That sounds about like what I was thinking for recovery time. Mine is Grade 3 (complete rupture) not sure if that means longer recovery or not. In the end I am now more concerned about the labrum tear since my shoulder continues to hurt. Once again, I am grateful that Red Rock has quality easy to moderate multipitch.


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By Kent Pease
From Littleton, Colorado
Oct 31, 2012

My longhead biceps was intentionally cut as part of shoulder surgery for a different ailment. The Dr. said it was frayed and would have snapped in the future anyway. I was diligent with PT, and with regaining strength from weight training and climbing. As I recall it was about 3 months until I was basically normal, and by 6 months I was completely recovered. The only detriment Iíve noticed is that my curl strength is about 95% of what is was before.

In summary, the loss of my longhead biceps is not limiting my climbing. There are other factors that have a much greater influence on my climbing ability.


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