Return to sport and weightlifting analysis following distal biceps tendon repair

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2021 Sep;30(9):2097-2104. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2021.01.034. Epub 2021 Mar 3.


Background: Rupture of the distal biceps tendon is an increasingly frequent injury sustained predominantly by middle-aged men. Despite the prevalence of sport in this age group, little is known regarding return to sport outcomes following surgery.

Methods: Patients undergoing distal biceps tendon repair (DBR) between January 2015 and January 2017 were contacted electronically via e-mail and via telephone to administer a previously validated and standard return to sport survey. Patients self-reported preinjury and current level of sport and activity as well as preinjury and current level of select weightlifts.

Results: A total of 77 of 124 patients were available for follow-up (62.1%). Of these patients, 61 endorsed preoperative sport and were included for analysis. Average follow-up was 38.7 ± 6.7 months. The mean age at surgery was 47.5 ± 8.8 years, and the mean body mass index was 30.3 ± 5.1. The dominant side was affected in 25 of 61 cases. Of the 61 included patients, 57 (93.4%) were able to return to sport at any level (lower, same, or higher intensity than preinjury activity level). Forty of the patients (65.6%) were able to return to sport at same or higher intensity. Mean time to return to sport was 6.0 ± 2.8 months. Days from injury to surgery (odds ratio [OR] 0.999, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.998-0.999), suture anchor fixation in comparison to suture button (OR 0.602, 95% CI 0.427-0.850), and dominant-side surgery (OR 0.749, 95% CI 0.582-0.963) were associated with a decreased likelihood to return to sport at same or higher level of duty. Single-sided incision in comparison to double (OR 5.209, 95% CI 1.239-20.903) and dominant-side surgery (OR 6.370, 95% CI 1.639-24.762) were associated with increased duration to return to sport.

Conclusion: Distal biceps tendon rupture is a significant injury; however, patients can expect high levels of return to sport following DBR with some residual impairment compared with baseline. It is important to counsel patients on their expectations while taking into account the results of this study: that there will be a small but appreciable decrease in strength compared with preinjury levels.

Keywords: Biceps tendon; distal biceps repair; outcomes; sport.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Return to Sport*
  • Rupture / surgery
  • Tendon Injuries* / surgery
  • Tendons
  • Treatment Outcome