The triceps tendon is likely to become inflamed and rupture when over-stressed while lifting weights or pushing something that is too heavy. It can also rupture when outstretched arms are used to break a fall.

The triceps tendon is located at the back of the upper arm and inserts into the back of the elbow. The symptoms of inflammation or a rupture may include elbow pain at rest or during activity, painful swelling at the back of the elbow, and reduction in elbow function.

Those at Risk
Those frequently lifting large amounts of weight at the gym without properly strengthening opposing muscle groups are at risk of triceps tendon inflammation or rupture. Also vulnerable are skateboarders or roller bladders, who rely on outstretched arms to break a fall.

Along with patient history, a physical examination involving arm movement and tightening of the triceps muscle will help determine diagnosis. For patients with a history of elbow pain, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or arthrogram (enhanced X-ray) may be indicated in order to assess the condition of the elbow joint and associated tendons.

Conservative nonsurgical treatment is usually successful in treating triceps tendon inflammation or ruptures. This may entail cold compression in order to reduce swelling, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and a period of rest followed by a rehabilitative strengthening and flexibility program that is specific to the patient.

When the condition is nonresponsive to conservative treatment, surgery to repair a tendon tear may be performed. This depends on the patient’s history, age and level of activity.