The biceps tendon connects the biceps muscle, which is located in the upper part of the arm, firmly to the bone. The biceps muscle allows the arm to flex at the elbow, and to rotate the forearm so that the palm faces up. The distal biceps tendon, which is located at the crease of the elbow, may separate from the bone if tremendous force is suddenly applied to the elbow. This results in a diminished ability to flex the elbow and rotate the forearm against any kind of resistance.
Surgery to repair and reconstruct a torn distal biceps tendon should be performed soon after the injury occurs because the tendon retracts farther into the upper arm as time passes, making repair more difficult. Surgery involves making either one or two incisions across the front of the elbow and repairing the tendon so it anchors to the bone. It may be anchored in a number of ways, including by running sutures through the tendon and then attaching the sutures to anchors that have been placed in the bone. Or, instead of anchors, sutures may be run through holes that have been drilled in the bone.
Recovery takes months, with movement initially restricted, possibly by a splint or cast. When the elbow is again functioning properly, strengthening exercises are begun. Complications from this type of surgery are rare.