Triceps Tendon Rupture

A triceps tendon tear refers to a rupture or injury to the triceps tendon, which is the thick, strong tendon that connects the triceps muscle to the olecranon, a bony prominence at the back of the elbow. Triceps tendon tears can occur as a result of sudden, forceful trauma or repetitive overuse, leading to partial or complete tearing of the tendon.

Symptoms of a triceps tendon tear may include:

1.     Pain: Patients may experience pain in the back of the elbow, which can range from mild discomfort to severe, sharp pain.

2.     Swelling: Swelling at the back of the elbow is a common symptom of a triceps tendon tear.

3.     Weakness: Reduced strength and difficulty straightening the elbow against resistance can be indicative of a triceps tendon injury.

4.     Difficulty Extending the Elbow: Patients may have difficulty fully extending the elbow, and may notice a loss of full range of motion.

Triceps tendon tears can occur due to several reasons, including:

1.     Acute Trauma: A sudden, forceful impact or direct blow to the back of the elbow can result in a triceps tendon tear. This type of injury is often associated with accidents, falls, or sports-related trauma.

2.     Overuse: Repetitive use of the triceps muscle, especially in activities that involve heavy lifting, pushing, or excessive use of the elbow joint, can contribute to chronic overuse injuries and may lead to triceps tendon tears over time.

3.     Degenerative Changes: Degenerative changes related to aging or chronic conditions, such as tendonitis or tendon degeneration, can weaken the triceps tendon and make it more susceptible to tearing.

Triceps tendon tears are typically diagnosed through a physical examination, along with imaging studies such as ultrasound or MRI to evaluate the extent of the injury. Treatment may involve conservative measures such as rest, physical therapy, and immobilization, but in cases of complete tears, surgical repair may be necessary to restore function and stability to the elbow. It’s important for individuals experiencing symptoms of a triceps tendon tear to seek prompt medical evaluation for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


In most cases, patients do not notice any loss of shoulder function following a triceps tendon rupture although elbow function is significantly affected. A defect or space on the back of the elbow where the tendon normally is located can usually be felt.  Some cramping of the retracted muscle and perhaps a slight bulge in the arm are also usually common symptoms. Surgical repair of the triceps tendon is usually prescribed for the majority of patients to prevent elbow extension weakness. Nonoperative treatment is only recommended for partial tears.  Surgical repair of a complete rupture is recommend to be performed within 4 weeks of the injury

Surgical repair involves reattaching the tendon to the bone with the use of drill holes or bone anchors.  Following the surgery the elbow is placed in a splint to protect the repair for a short period (1-2 weeks) followed by use of a removable brace (for 6-8 weeks) that allows the elbow to bend.  Physical therapy is typically recommended to begin 4-6 weeks after the surgery with full return to sports or unrestricted activity approximately 4-6 months after surgery.

Stories Related to Triceps Tendon Rupture

1 of 1
You are using an unsupported version of Internet Explorer. To ensure security, performance, and full functionality, please upgrade to an up-to-date browser.