This study quantified pain (visual analog pain scale [VAPS]), disability (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand [DASH]) and isometric supination torque at 3 forearm positions in a prospective cohort of biceps-deficient arms to assess the potential for functional return with nonoperative treatment.

Twenty-three men (50 ± 11 years) with complete unilateral distal biceps avulsion underwent isometric supination strength testing of both limbs at 60° of supination, 0° (neutral), and 60° of pronation. After exclusion of 1 outlier patient, the mean time from injury to evaluation was 44 days (range, 4-455 days). Pain level (VAPS) and functional outcome (DASH) were assessed; supination strength was normalized to the uninjured arm.

The uninjured arm was stronger (P < .001), and peak torque varied with forearm position (P < .043). Peak torque was greater in pronation compared with supination, regardless of injury (P < .002). No differences were detected in supination strength as a result of forearm position or arm dominance. Supination strength did not correlate with time from injury to evaluation. One patient regained supination strength (115%) at 60° of pronation and 72% in neutral with a lengthy time from injury. VAPS (5 of 10) and DASH (39 of 100) scores decreased with time and did not relate to supination strength.

Biceps tendon rupture led to a 60% decrease in supination strength in the neutrally oriented forearm. Peak torque observations can be explained using forearm moment arms. VAPS and DASH scores decreased with time but did not affect strength. We speculate that supination strength from pronation to neutral can improve as one strengthens the brachioradialis but strength deficits from neutral to supination are more difficult to overcome.