Costco Employee Makes Full Recovery from Distal Biceps Repair Surgery and Gets Back to Work and Active Life
Steven Lane, originally from Illinois, has lived in Arizona since he was a teenager. His wife is a native from Arizona and they live in the state with their son and daughter. Steven enjoys camping and hiking in his spare time. While doing chin up with his son in his backyard. Steven ruptured several tendons in his arm. “I’m left-handed, so luckily I injured the right arm,” he joked. His injury resulted in needing a distal biceps repair surgery to regain full function and use.
Steven works at Costco as a gas attendant and also in the warehouse and loves his job and working for Costco. “I hadn’t called in sick or been late to work in five years,” he said.
Steven was able to get an appointment with Dr. Eric Novack, board certified orthopedic surgeon, on Monday – the day after his injury – as Dr. Novack holds a few open spots on his schedule for emergency situations like Steven’s injury.
Steven shared that he told Dr. Novack at that first appointment that he couldn’t just stop work and Dr. Novack said, “we have a five- to seven-day window to get ahead of this – after that things start to heal on their own and not in a good way. We then lose a chance for the best possible recovery outcome.”
“Dr. Novack examined my arm and before even doing any test said he had a pretty good idea of what was going on and we would need to do a distal biceps repair surgery to repair the ruptured tendons that attach the biceps muscle to the bone. Both X-rays and an MRI confirmed Dr. Novack’s initial diagnosis,” said Steven.
Distal Biceps Repair Surgery
Steven was in surgery three days after his diagnosis, giving him the best possibility for a strong recovery. “I’d only had surgery for my tonsils and kidney stones,” shared Steven. “So, I was a bit nervous, but Dr. Novack and his orthopedic teaminformed me about everything that would happen and I felt very comfortable and in the loop at all times.”
The surgery was performed at Honor Health, where Dr. Novack performs many of his surgeries. Steven said he had a great experience at Honor Health and that both the hospital team and Dr. Novack provided excellent communication during the entire experience.
Steven’s surgery went great and he decided to participate in Dr. Novack’s TheraMe rehab program– a time-saving and cost-effective alternative to physical therapy – which is administered by Connie Tillmans, Athletic Trainer, and overseen by Dr. Novack.
“TheraMe was great as it’s offered right in Dr. Novack’s office. Connie showed me in detail how to perform the rehab exercises and taught me how to do the program working in baby steps,” Steven shared. “I was then able to do the program on my own at home and follow-up as needed with Connie and Dr. Novack on my progress.”
Steven’s recovery is on track with a planned release this month. He shared that he had some atrophy in his arm initially, but through working with Connie and the TheraMe program, he’s overcome it and is now focusing on regaining full arm strength.
He added that he’s pleased that he also has full range of motion, joking that he volunteered to do many household tasks that gently worked out his arm like dishes and making coffee each morning for his wife, which she appreciated.
“I definitely achieved the outcome I was hoping for,” said Steven. “I’m 57 so I didn’t expect to heal as fast as I would have when I was younger, but my progress and healing has been slow at times, but always forward-moving.”
Steven shared that he would and already has recommended Dr. Novack and his team, noting that they are professional, friendly, informative and good communicators.
“They really get stuff done and take great care of their patients,” Steven added as a final note.
About Distal Biceps Repair Surgery
The biceps muscle is in the front of the upper arm. The biceps is ‘best known’ for being the muscle that we can ‘see at the beach’ when we flex our elbow. It is not, however the strongest ‘elbow bending muscle.’ It assists the brachialis muscle, which lives deep to the biceps. The biceps is the main muscle that has our forearm go from ‘palm down’ to ‘palm up.’ This is used when we do everything from open jars to doors to turn keys.
Most biceps tears involve the ‘long head’ of the biceps by the shoulder, resulting in a ‘popeye muscle’ appearance—these almost never need any kind of repair, and, while they can look different, result rarely in any functional loss.
Distal biceps ruptures usually occur while attempting to lift or hold a heavy weight—and there is a tearing sensation at the front of the elbow—sometimes it can look like the muscle belly moves up ‘like a lamp shade’.
Because there is only one attachment of the biceps on the forearm—rupture of the distal biceps generally will result in some residual weakness if not repaired. That said, NOT every distal biceps tendon rupture needs a surgical repair.
But, if surgery is to be performed—the sooner the better—and beyond several weeks, the technical process of the repair becomes more complicated as the biceps muscle ‘sticks down’ to the brachialis below.
If there is a high concern for a distal biceps rupture or tear—you should be seen within the first couple of days for evaluation—an MRI will almost always be done to confirm the diagnosis.
Image credit: https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/picture-of-the-biceps#1