The most common symptom of a triceps tendon injury is pain in the elbow. If the injury is minor, it may feel like an ache, but the more serious the injury, the more severe the pain.
With a complete tendon rupture, X-ray imaging may reveal signs of elbow fracture with a torn triceps tendon. Other symptoms of a triceps tendon injury may include:
- Aching in the elbow that increases with movement
- Sudden, sharp tearing sensation in the elbow
- Pain and swelling
- Muscle spasms in the arm
- Difficulty fully extending the arm
What is a torn triceps tendon?
The triceps brachii is a large, thick muscle in the upper arm that often appears in the shape of a horseshoe and whose main function is to extend the elbow joint. The triceps is made up of three heads: long, lateral and medial.
Triceps muscle tears occur toward the ends of the muscle and may be caused by a direct blow to the elbow due to a fall on an outstretched hand or lifting heavy weights against resistance.
What are the types of triceps injuries?
There are two types of triceps tendon injuries: tendinitis and tears:
- Tendinitis is most often caused by repetitive motions that put strain on the elbow, such as doing pushups, swinging a bat or tennis racquet, or lifting weights. Overuse of the tendon can cause irritation and inflammation.
- Tears are caused by abrupt force on the muscle.
What are risk factors for triceps tears?
Men tear their triceps tendon more than women, almost at a 3 to 1 ratio. However, most people who injure their triceps tendon do not have any risk factors, although chronic illness (such as diabetes and hypothyroidism) increases the risk of injury.
Other risk factors for triceps tear injuries include:
- Anabolic steroid use
- Elbow bursitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Steroid injections in the elbow
How are triceps tendon injuries treated?
Depending on the severity of the damage, a triceps tendon injury may heal on its own or require surgery to repair it:
- Nonsurgical treatment includes resting the elbow and limiting the number of repetitive motions. Applying ice every 20 minutes for a few hours can help reduce triceps irritation and pain. (Remember the R-I-C-E protocol: Rest–Ice–Compression–Elevation of the affected part.)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen also work to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Complete tendon tears usually require surgical repair. Surgery should take place within a month of the injury for optimal healing, followed by physical rehabilitation.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Are the Symptoms of a Torn Triceps Muscle Related Articles
Elbow PainElbow pain is most often the result of tendinitis, which can affect the inner or outer elbow. Treatment includes ice, rest, and medication for inflammation. Inflammation, redness, warmth, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion are other symptoms associated with elbow pain. Treatment for elbow pain depends upon the nature of the patient's underlying disease or condition.
How Do You Treat Tendonitis in the Elbow?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your elbow tendonitis symptoms and help you manage tendonitis in the elbow.
Is a Muscle Strain the Same as a Muscle Tear?What is the difference between a muscle strain and a muscle tear?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease resulting in chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Early RA signs and symptoms include anemia, both sides of the body affected (symmetric), depression, fatigue, fever, joint deformity, joint pain, joint redness, joint stiffness, joint swelling, joint tenderness, joint warmth, limping, loss of joint function, loss of joint range of motion, and polyarthritis.
RA SlideshowWhat is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Learn about treatment, diagnosis, and the symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Discover rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes and the best medication for RA and JRA.
Rotator Cuff Tear: Exercises, Symptoms, Tests, and SurgeryRotator cuff tears are painful. Learn about rotator cuff tear exercises, symptoms, tests, and surgery.
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis. Symptoms of tennis elbow include tenderness and dull pain of the outer elbow. Resting, applying cold packs, and taking anti-inflammatory medications are usually effective treatments for tennis elbow.
Torn MeniscusA torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting heavy weight. Symptoms of a meniscal tear include pain with running or walking long distances, popping when climbing stairs, a giving way sensation, locking, or swelling. Treatment depends upon the severity, location, and underlying disease of the knee joint.
Torn Meniscus PictureThe knee is a joint where the bone of the thigh (femur) meets the shinbone of the leg (tibia). See a picture of Torn Meniscus and learn more about the health topic.
What Are Flexor Tendon Lacerations?A flexor tendon laceration is a deep cut on the palm side of the fingers, hand, wrist, or forearm that can injure the flexor tendon. A flexor tendon laceration can be managed by surgical and non-surgical therapy. Partially torn tendons can be treated with nonsurgical treatments. Non-surgical management can only be done if less than 60% tendon is involved. Non-surgical treatment options include using a splint, applying ice packs on the affected area and anti-inflammatory and pain relievers, such as ibuprofen.
What Is an Extensor Tendon Repair?Surgical repair of a lacerated or torn extensor tendon is called extensor tendon repair. An extensor tendon repair surgery can be performed under either regional or general anesthesia. The goal of extensor tendon repair surgery is to re-establish the integrity and durability of the damaged tendon and renew as much of the previous function as possible.
What Is Tendon Transfer Surgery?Tendon transfer surgery is a type of hand surgery that is performed to improve the lost function of the hand. In this surgery, a functioning tendon is shifted from its original attachment to another site in the hand for restoring the lost action. Complications include infection, pain, repair failure, tendon adhesion (tendons become stuck to the surrounding tissue and lose their range of movement), hand deformity, bleeding, injury to nearby nerves, tendons or blood vessels; hand stiffness, hand weakness, swelling, rupture of the transferred tendon, and the need for another corrective surgery.
What Is the Best Treatment for Shoulder Tendonitis?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your shoulder tendonitis symptoms and help you manage this condition.