I tore my biceps tendon in a work accident. The doctor is advising surgery to repair it. What will happen if I just let it heal on its own?

Soft tissue healing of this kind depends on several factors. Your age, your general health, and whether or not you smoke, drink, or use other substances all make a difference. Health conditions such as diabetes, anemia, liver or heart disease can slow down healing. The use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs will also delay wound healing.

The type of injury is also a factor. A small tear will heal on its own but scar tissue may make the tendon less flexible. A large tear will heal with the tendon retracted from its original position. Your elbow motion and strength may be affected.

If you depend on full motion and full strength for your job, you are best advised to have the surgery. There are some risks involved with any surgery, including tendon repair. Your surgeon will go over these with you. Make sure the surgeon knows the type of work you do. Discuss your expectations for return to work after surgery.