The triceps is the muscle on the backside of the upper arm. It is attached to the arm bone by a large tendon, which is a soft tissue that keeps muscle and bone together. The primary function of the tendon on the backside of the arm is to attach the triceps to the arm bone. This attachment allows the elbow to fully extend, which is why the arm can completely straighten.
When this tendon becomes irritated, causing inflammation, it is called triceps tendonitis. This typically causes pain around the elbow in the back of the upper arm and often makes daily movement difficult. The condition can be a result of overuse or a direct blow to the area that caused tissue trauma. This condition commonly occurs in weightlifters and body builders because it is a result of overuse and excessive force.
In cases of untreated tendonitis, the tendon may tear or rupture, though it is uncommon. Like many other tendon injuries, triceps tendon tears are mainly caused by either an acute trauma, such as a fall, or overuse.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
A doctor specializing in care of the arm, such as Dr. Leah Urbanosky of Hinsdale Orthopaedics, will administer a full physical examination in order to diagnose tendonitis. The physician may also order an x-ray to see if any of the pain is a result of a chipped bone.
Some symptoms of triceps tendonitis are:
If the triceps tendon is torn, there will most likely be additional pain. The arm will also feel much weaker, and there may be an unexpected popping sound that accompanies the pain.
Tendonitis can be treated non-surgically with the use of ice and anti-inflammatory medication. A brace or strap may be and physical therapy exercises will be recommended to strengthen the muscle. Most patients fully recover with a combination of non-operative treatments.
If the tendon is ruptured or torn from untreated tendonitis, surgery may be needed to repair the rupture. In this case, it is ideal to repair the tissue within three weeks of the tear for optimal results. Often, the triceps tendon does not completely tear, which makes for a simpler surgery. Rehab and rest is required for at least four weeks post-surgery in order to ensure full healing.
If you think that you may be experiencing a problem with your triceps, contact Dr. Leah Urbanosky for a consultation: (815) 462-3474.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Triceps Tedonitis or Rupture
Bicep Tendon Tear or Rupture