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Discussion Starter #1
Pretty sure I have a distal bicep tendon partial or complete tear (I go in for imaging tomorrow). I’ve gone over a bunch of different timelines for recovery depending on the method of repair. What I’m wondering is has anyone had this injury and what was your experience on timeframe/ recovery to go back to piloting on the oars again?? Thanks for the input!
 

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Hate to be the bringer of bad new but... a complete distal bicep tendon tear usually means surgery and 6-8 weeks PT and recovery before allowed light exercise. It can be up to 6 months sometimes, before allowing heavy lifting.
If it's just a partial, then it just depends on the grade of tear. Usually no surgery with PT for several weeks before returning to full use.
I would think it would also depend on the type of water and boat you'll be working. Are you guiding fly fishing trips on the Mo or hauling gear on the Salmon?
Here's Hoping for a speedy recovery!
 

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I've had my left one repaired. Get it done now and you'll be able to row/boat in the spring.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys, yeah I had a rogue trip planned in a month and a went ahead and canceled that shortly after it “popped” before even going to the doc, kinda just knew. Anyway it’s good to hear you were rowing ok 6 months later dgoods. That’s my hope to be able to go back to running a loaded boat down class 3-4 water by spring....following a successful procedure and diligent rehab of course.
 

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Yeah, try to find a good ortho-someone who does a lot of biceps. The key is to not rush the recovery. When they anchor it back in place, it is very fragile and does take time to heal up strong. If you rush it, you run the risk of popping it again. On mine, I waited several seasons before getting it done. I shouldn't have. During all that time abusing it, I was building up a lot of scar tissue-ultimately making it worse. The sooner you get it done, the sooner you'll be strong again...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Agreed, I’m hoping to get cut (if it’s a reattach fix) within a few weeks of injury. Sounds like the best results. I am a firm believer in the value of following a rehab program very diligently. Have had 4 surgeries on one of my knees and still lead an active lifestyle as a result of strong rehab practices. Anyway, it’s good hear another boaters experience with the injury
 

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I completely tore mine completely on day 5 of a Grand trip in the hole that forms at high water in Tanner. I was able to continue rowing but was very concerned of compartment syndrome from so much swelling in my forearm. Lots of compression and elevation when possible. Ice was in short supply in August. When I got home and saw a doctor it had been a couple of weeks since the injury. I had surgery two days later. My rowing was done until running Westwater the following March. I kept everything on the boat light for awhile but it has never caused me any trouble after a couple of years now and normal use. Two after-effects though: it still looks Popeye-ish (I think because I waited as long as I did it contracted) and I get a dull ache, not from rowing, from swinging my arm all day on long hikes.
Good luck! As far as surgeries go it doesn’t hinder you too much during recovery. Still able to get around easily and to drive after finishing pain meds (I didn’t need to take any after the first 48 hours post surgery). Get it done and get ready for spring!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
That’s kinda epic. I will say that I think the bicep might be a bit of a bystander in regards to rowing. Seems like back and forearms could compensate for a lot. But holy s%#*, having 10-12 days of rowing left after that with what I’m guessing was a heavy boat. That’s grizzled!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I’m guessing oar rights probably help a bit, at least when getting back into the captains seat at first. I’ve debated going back to using them anyway prior to this to save some wear on the connective tissue. At least in a loaded boat in stout water
 

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I had one pop out about two years ago and they had to cut and reattach. The 6 month recovery time is no joke and for me it was a solid 9 months before I could pull a bow back at full draw. Usually there are one or two other things that have contributed to the tear having to do with the cuff etc. At least that was the case with me. I had a bone spur and a partial cuff tear. I’m 56 now though so my long recovery could have been due to my age... 🤞 Good Luck!

regards
KevlaRR
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Are you talking about the top of your bicep and it’s connection to shoulder? I had that injury about 20 years ago and didn’t have surgery cuz I was a poor (and dumb) college kid. Long story but I had it recover back to 90-95% strength of my non injured arm. Which I was told was rare. Anyway, my current injury is on the opposite arm and it’s the lower that connects bicep to lower arm. I plan on listening to the docs and following my rehab 100% this time around
 

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You might look at Mtn Project for recovery advice - this is not uncommon in the climbing community.
 

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I'm dealing with the same injury. My NP told me it's a partial rupture (no Popeye arm). She said they only do surgery for the full rupture. She prescribed physical therapy, but they're so backed up I can't get in to see them. I'm doing exercises on my own.

Lifting my hand over my shoulder and toward my back (as if setting up to throw a football) causes shoulder pain. My elbow also aches. It seems to be fine if I keep up on my exercises. If I miss a day I feel a dull ache the next.

It happened on the second day of a San Juan trip, last June. It felt like a spring "sprung" in my upper arm. No immediate pain but an odd sensation. It didn't seem to slow me down, including on the long, slack section approaching Clay Hills. I haven't rowed (or climbed) :( since we got off the San Juan.

Between the shoulder/elbow and multiple trigger fingers I feel somewhat limited. This aging thing is kind of bunk.
 

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Greenwave: I had complete tears of both of my bicep tendons about 7 years ago, due to a technical climbing "event" (i.e. not an accident or fall, I just overtorqued the arm while climbing). Anyway, I'll echo the posts above about the general timing of recovery, recognizing that everyone and every injury is uniqie, and the importance of complying with PT. One thing I'll add, however, is to go heavy on the diagnosis end of things. One of my tendons was known to have torn, but my doc missed that the second one was also torn. I had to pay for another MRI on my own after the surgery to establish that. Obviously not good, a long story, but just be sure you know exactly what it is you need to repair. Not good to hear that when one tendon tears, the second one is also strained or torn 80% of the time. This was whispered to me after the fact by the doc's own staff. I'm sure you'll be fine, but my advice is when in doubt, do more inquiry, maybe even a second opinion. If they don't attach a "missed" tendon during surgery it may be too late once it is discovered.

But yeah, get on it now and you should be good to go (or good enough) for spring adventures. Good luck!
-Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for the input Tom, I hadn’t considered a 2nd tendon. Are there 2 distals or does the 2nd tendon have a name? Guess I could look at an anatomical picture too. I’m going to the ortho tomorrow and I find it helps to speak the language properly sometimes. How has your climbing came back?? I mostly climb 5.easy/ moderate so not cranking on stuff too hard but that activity you kinda do what needs to happen when your on the sharp end. Anyway, thanks for the beta
 

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Thanks for the input Tom, I hadn’t considered a 2nd tendon. Are there 2 distals or does the 2nd tendon have a name? Guess I could look at an anatomical picture too. I’m going to the ortho tomorrow and I find it helps to speak the language properly sometimes. How has your climbing came back?? I mostly climb 5.easy/ moderate so not cranking on stuff too hard but that activity you kinda do what needs to happen when your on the sharp end. Anyway, thanks for the beta
Hey Greenwave,

Not sure of the tendon name, it's been many years since my injury. I certainly don't want to be alarmist but it may be worth asking your doc directly if any other tendons/ligaments could also have been injured/severed, etc. Worth a question IMO. As for me, by the time I found my doc's error it was too late for a surgical attachment, the loose tendon had already re-attached itself; in the wrong location, too low on the bone fwiw. My climbing is doing OK, thanks for asking. I still climb, it's my primary passion (I got into boating to access some climbs!), but I've been warned by other docs that if I get too aggressive and tear that tendon a re-attachment may not be possible. I also have some minor residual nerve damage, worth asking about that as well. But I currently prefer "adventure climbs" anyway, e.g. more remote towers and mesas, and usually the grade is low/mid 5th, so I can handle that. I did one climb very recently in DNM, possibly a first ascent (?), and had to aid a short section because the steep offwidth would have torqued my arm too much. Eh, c'est la vie...still had a great time!

-Tom
 
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