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Triceps tendon tear occurs when the triceps tendon, the tendon that connects the triceps muscle to the elbow detaches from the bone. This injury can cause severe pain and disability. One uses the triceps to straighten the arm back out after it’s been bent.

This condition can be caused by overuse, often due to work-related activities or sports. It can also happen due to a sudden injury to the tendon.

Causes of Triceps Tear

  • Using an improper technique while performing a repetitive movement
  • Having a chronic condition such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis
  • A sudden increase in how hard or often one performs a repetitive movement
  • Improper stretching and warming up, especially prior to exercise or participation in sports

Triceps tendon tear can also result from an acute injury, such as falling onto an outstretched arm or having a bent arm abruptly pulled straight.

Symptoms of Triceps Tear

  • Pain that occurs when one uses his/her triceps muscles
  • A popping noise or feeling at the time of injury
  • A limited range of motion
  • Swelling on the back of the upper arm, near the elbow
  • Achiness in the area of the triceps, shoulder, or elbow

Diagnosis of Triceps Tear

During the diagnosis, the doctor will take a medical history and understand how the injury occurred. A physical examination will also be conducted to check the following:

  • If the patient can stretch his/her arm
  • There’s swelling where the tendon attaches to the elbow.

The doctor will also order an X-ray to help make a diagnosis. Other imaging tests like MRI or ultrasound may be recommended to help the doctor confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Triceps Tear

Nonsurgical options

Nonsurgical treatments emphasize pain relief and preserving arm function. They might be a good alternative depending on the severity of the tear. Even though many bicep tears can heal on their own over time without surgery, a person may lose arm strength in the process. Nonsurgical alternatives include:

  • Rest: By refraining from vigorous activity, the tendon may have time to mend. A doctor could advise using a sling and attempting to use the other arm for simple chores.
  • Ice: It could help to minimize swelling by applying cold packs to the area for 20 minutes at a time.
  • Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, for example, are some treatments that may help lessen pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: strengthening muscles and regaining the arm’s range of motion may be achieved with the aid of several rehabilitation activities.

Surgical options

A person could need surgery if the triceps tear is significant or if nonsurgical treatments are ineffective. A doctor might recommend surgery as a first course of action in specific circumstances, like a rip close to the elbow.

The goal of surgery is to reattach the tendon to the bone. As much as surgical complications are unlikely, they are still possible. Delaying surgery can lead to an increased risk of problems, which is why doctors frequently advise surgery as the initial course of action.

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