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Triceps Tendon Rupture

Triceps Tendon Rupture is defined as a partial or complete tear of the triceps muscle or tendon at one of several sites, including the musculotendinous junction or the tendinous insertion at the bone. 

Symptoms 

  • There is acute onset of pain and bleeding around the triceps, tendon insertion at the olecranon of the elbow along with loss of extension power.
  • Ecchymosis may be present over area of triceps insertion
  • Occasionally an avulsion fracture may occur.
  • There is an equal prevalence in both sides, and no correlation has been found with dominant or non-dominant hand.

This image describes the  anatomy of the triceps muscle
Tricpes muscle rupture anatomy

Clinical Findings 

  • Presentation includes swelling, pain, bruising over posterior arm and elbow.
  • There is tenderness on palpation over the olecranon and pain and weakness on resisted elbow extension.
  • Specifically observe affected side and compare to contralateral side.
  • Sometimes a palpable defect can be found just proximal to the olecranon.

Treatment

Ice and NSAIDs are the mainstay of acute therapy.

Partial tears can be treated with two to four weeks’ immobilization followed by progressive rehabilitation by way of physical therapy over three months.

Physical therapy includes

  • Pain control modalities and shoulder, forearm and wrist range of motion (ROM) exercises may be started immediately.
  • Passive elbow ROM should be started after 2–3 wks.
  • Active assist and then full active ROM exercises should be initiated after completion of immobilization period.

A complete rupture requires surgical re-fixation.