Triceps Tendonitis

What is Triceps Tendonitis?

Tendons are a type of connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone, allowing movement to occur. The triceps muscle begins at the shoulder joint and extends down the back of the arm to the elbow. At the elbow the triceps tendon unites the triceps muscle to the olecranon process (a bony bump at the base of the elbow). Triceps Tendonitis occurs when this tendon becomes inflamed.

What causes Triceps Tendonitis?

The two main causes of Triceps Tendonitis include overuse or traumatic injury. Overuse is most common and results from repetitive straightening or pushing the elbow. Activities such as hammering, forceful throwing, push-ups or bench press exercises are common causes of this disorder. The recurrent stress on the tendon produces damage and inflammation over time. In the case of trauma, a direct blow or extreme force beyond what the triceps tendon is able to endure can also lead to Triceps Tendonitis.

What are the symptoms of Triceps Tendonitis?

The most common symptom is elbow pain that usually gets worse with activity. In severe cases the pain may be present at rest, limiting mobility. Sometimes there is mild edema and/or weakness of the triceps muscle.

How is Triceps Tendonitis diagnosed?

In general, a thorough physical examination, medical history, review of symptoms and activities is sufficient to determine a diagnosis of Triceps Tendonitis. In some instances imaging studies such as x-rays, ultrasound, MRI or CT scans may be used to exclude fracture and assess the severity of the condition.

Treatment Options for Triceps Tendonitis


Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (commonly called the RICE protocol) should be employed during the initial two days of treatment. All activities that aggravate the site should be stopped. A cold compress may be applied to the affected elbow several times a day for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Light compression using a bandage and elevating the elbow above the level of the heart will also help to reduce swelling and pain. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen may help decrease pain and inflammation. Once the inflammation has subsided your physician may recommend special exercises to stretch and strengthen the tendon. It is important to allow proper recovery otherwise the Triceps Tendonitis will likely re-occur.


Surgical intervention is required if the elbow does not respond to conservative treatment or if the tendon is ruptured. The procedure may include repair or replacement of the triceps tendon and reattachment of the tendon to the bone. The arm is immobilized in a cast or splint post-operatively to protect the site and allow proper healing.

Why See Dr. Knight?

Dr. John Knight is a board certified orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years’ experience. He has performed more than 15,000 procedures involving conditions of the hands and arms. In addition to his experience, Dr. Knight has completed extensive training and has served on numerous medical boards. He currently serves as director of the Hand and Wrist Institute at D.I.S.C with experience, skill and compassion, Dr. Knight offers the highest quality treatment, from diagnosis and at-home care of your triceps tendonitis, to pain management, advanced surgical procedures and ultimate rehabilitation.

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Disclaimer does not offer medical advice. The information presented here is offered for informational purposes only. Read Disclaimer