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Treatment for torn biceps tendon successful; Shaw hopeful to compete in 2012 World’s Strongest Man.

Friends and family of  Shaw who know him well rely on him often to lift the heavy stuff. With what he refers to as an “unusual strength”, Brian isn’t your typical, average guy. Standing at 6 feet, 8 inches tall, wearing a size-16 shoe, and already weighing close to 240 pounds when he graduated high school, Brian is just down right powerful.

So powerful, that in 2011 he competed in the World’s Strongest Man competition…and won!!!

Brian was always taller, heavier, and stronger than the average guy. At Fort Lupton (CO) High School, he played basketball and excelled at the sport. It was around this time that Brian began weight lifting and weight training to keep in shape for basketball.  He attended Otero Junior College for two years and began to study wellness management, and eventually went on to play basketball for Black Hills State University his junior and senior years.

“While I loved basketball, I had a new interest and focus on weight lifting. I started to see results, and the more I became involved in it, the more it started to become a big passion. The gym quickly became my sanctuary and my home away from home,” said Brian.

brian shaw lifting weightsIn 2005, Brian entered his first major contest—Denver’s Strongest Man Contest—and won. Without any formal training up to this point and a dead lift that was hovering around 750 pounds, it wasn’t too soon after that win that he joined the professional ranks and continued to have success.  He earned his professional status in June of 2006 by winning a pro-am contest in Utah. Over the next few years, Brian would consistently place in the top tier of every competition he entered and began traveling all over the world to compete.  He had his eyes set on one specific competition that is notably the most significant in the sport—the World’s Strongest Man contest.

Created in 1977, this contest brings the top 30 strongest men on the planet together to compete in a series of amazing events to test endurance and strength. Some of these events include a deadlift, loading and unloading, overhead log lift, Atlas Stones, and other outstanding tests of strength such as pulling a truck or an airplane.  Brian placed 3rd in 2009, 2nd in 2010, and in 2011, he fulfilled his dream of becoming the World’s Strongest Man taking home the coveted 1st place trophy. He currently holds the title as “THE WORLD’S STRONGEST MAN”.

Following this incredible victory, Brian continued to train and prepare for the next event. In March of 2012, he competed in the Arnold Classic in Columbus, OH and went into this competition with hopes of coming out a winner. Brian was obviously a favorite to win, but when he competed in the very first event— the Apollon Wheel—Brian felt a sharp, burning tear in his left biceps.

“I was transitioning the apparatus – which was essentially a 470 pound train axle – from my lower body to my shoulders and upon moving the device I felt a sharp sensation in my bicep muscle.  I knew immediately something was wrong, but I continued and convinced myself it was not a big deal. Over the next couple of days, I still competed, but my arm became more painful and eventually weakened. I went from 1st or 2nd place and finished 4th overall,” said Brian.

Once the competition was completed, Brian immediately went in for an MRI and his injury was diagnosed as a Distal Biceps Tendon Rupture. For most individuals, completing a competition after rupturing the biceps would have been impossible. Athletes who rupture their distal biceps tendon essentially rip the tendon that attaches the biceps muscle from the elbow bone.  This causes severe pain, weakness and a loss of motion.

Brian immediately began to search for the best orthopedic surgeon who would provide the most optimal Treatment for Torn Biceps Tendon. His Chiropractor, Dr. Ron Spallone, who heads Brian’s sports medicine team, interviewed surgeons from around the country before choosing Dr. Peter Millett. According to Brian, “I did a ton of research and Dr. Millett’s name kept coming up. I called numerous surgeons and compiled my list. Dr. Millett was the most responsive and authoritative.  He really took the time to explain to me what was involved in this injury; he has written numerous papers on the topic and wanted to make sure I understood everything. He was very reassuring. He knew my number one goal was to get back to competing but without the risk of future injury. Later that week, I went to Vail and underwent surgery at the hands of Dr. Millett,” said Brian.

Dr. Millett repaired Brian’s torn biceps tendon and expects him to make a full recovery. “Brian had one of, if not THE largest arms, that I have ever seen. The force involved in rupturing Brian’s biceps tendon was no doubt quite tremendous,” said Dr. Millett.

As treatment for torn biceps tendons, Dr. Millett uses a single-incision technique through a small incision on the front of the arm and fixes it back to the bone from where it had torn. “We used a cortical button for fixation as this has been shown to be the strongest type of repair,” said Dr. Millett. A few days after the surgery, Brian already felt quite well and was improving in physical therapy. “I’m about a week into my therapy and I’m very hopeful that I can begin lifting light weights in a few weeks once Dr. Millett gives me the green light! My strategy for a full recovery is to follow his protocol to the T so that I don’t reinjure myself once I am back.”

If all goes the way both Dr. Millett and Brian hope, he will be ready for his first competition following this injury in September of 2012 where he will compete in the next World’s Strongest Man competition.

According to Brian, “I’ve been really lucky that in my life as an athlete, I’ve not had to deal with injury. My Distal Biceps Tendon Rupture was my first major incident.  Because I train at a high level and compete at an even higher one, I knew I had to find the best. I’m thankful I found Dr. Millett. His responsiveness to my questions and concerns has helped to put me at ease; his surgical skills are outstanding, I feel I will definitely be back and plan to make my comeback at 100%. When I do, I will owe it to him.”

Dr. Millett and his team will be following Brian Shaw as he looks towards a healthy future and taking home another trophy in the 2012 World’s Strongest Man contest.

While clinical studies support the effectiveness of these procedures, individual results may vary. There are no guarantees of outcome. All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your individual situation.  Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment for your situation. The clinical information and opinions, including any inaccuracies expressed in this material by patients or doctor are not necessarily those of Peter Millett, MD and should not be considered as substitute for medical advice provided by your doctor.