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Triceps Tendonitis

What is Triceps Tendonitis?

Your tendons are strong connective tissues that attach muscles to bones. Because your bones can’t move on their own, they require the contraction and extension of muscles to move them. Tendonitis occurs when the connective tissue that attaches the muscle to the bone becomes inflamed, causing it to feel tender and sore.

Your arm contains several muscles, including your triceps, which runs from your deltoids–the muscle over your shoulder joint–to your elbow. Your triceps allow you to straighten your arm and attaches to the back of your elbow with a large tendon. When this tendon becomes inflamed, you feel pain, tenderness, and sometimes heat along the back of your upper arm, near the point of your elbow.

How is Triceps Tendonitis Caused?

Usually triceps tendonitis is caused by overuse of the triceps muscle, the biceps and the elbow. Repetitive bending and straightening can cause the tendon to become inflamed and painful. The most common causes of triceps tendonitis include activities such as hammering and throwing. Sports, such as tennis, racquetball and other games that require repeatedly bending the elbow can trigger triceps tendonitis, sometimes called posterior tennis elbow.

Triceps tendonitis can also be cause by a direct blow to or wrenching injury of the elbow.

Treatment Options for Triceps Tendonitis

Non-Surgical Treatment

Initial treatment for acute triceps tendonitis includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. Commonly called RICE, this protocol can reduce inflammation and relieve swelling in pain in many cases of triceps tendonitis. The tendon responds readily to RICE and further treatment may not be necessary. If you experience pain after an injury or repetitive motion, apply ice to the sore elbow for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day for the first 24 hours. Do not perform activities that cause pain to the area. You may apply a light compression bandage to help reduce swelling. Try to rest with the area above your heart. Over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, drug may help relieve pain and hasten healing. Your doctor may recommend stretching exercises that can speed rehabilitation.

If your pain does not respond to at-home treatment or if you have torn or ruptured your triceps tendon, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage.

Surgical Treatment

If you require surgical intervention for injury to your triceps tendon, your doctor will schedule you for a procedure to repair the damage. You will be given a general anesthetic through an IV and your doctor will make an incision to expose the damage area. Your doctor will carefully sew the ruptured tendon back onto the bone at the back of your elbow. Your doctor may require buttons or screws, and in some cases, tendon taken from another part of your body, to help the damaged tendon adhere to the bone. After the surgery, you will rest in the hospital before being allowed to return home. You may require a splint or cast to protect the tendon while it heals.

Recovery Time

If you treat an acute case of triceps tendonitis early, you may be able to resume your normal activities within a few days to weeks. If your triceps tendonitis goes untreated or is caused by a rupture or a tear, recovery may be as long as several months. Early diagnosis and treatment are the key to a shorter recovery period.

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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