Triceps tendonitis occurs when your triceps tendon becomes inflamed or injured. The most common cause of this condition is overusing your elbow in activities such as weightlifting, throwing, or hammering.
What You Need to Know About Triceps Tendonitis
What is Triceps Tendonitis?
Tendons are strong, flexible tissues that connect muscles to bones, enabling movement. The triceps muscle extends from the shoulder joint to the elbow. The triceps tendon connects the triceps muscle to the back of your elbow bone.
Triceps tendonitis is inflammation of the triceps tendon. Exercising or other vigorous activities can cause microtears in the muscle. These microtears make you feel sore and often repair themselves when you rest the muscle.
Tears will grow larger and faster than your body can repair if you continue working the muscle without allowing it to rest. This intense strain will weaken the triceps tendon and possibly lead to inflammation or injury.
Getting tricep tendonitis treatment starts with a visit to Resurgens Orthopaedics. Schedule an appointment at one of our Metro Atlanta locations.
What Causes Triceps Tendonitis?
Overuse and traumatic injury are the two most common causes of inflammation. Athletes are at risk of suffering this injury because they often make repetitive movements, such as throwing a baseball, swinging a tennis racket, or lifting weights. Workers who swing a hammer, dig with a shovel, or repeatedly extend their arms can also develop triceps tendonitis.
The strain on the tendon leads to inflammation because your body cannot repair the microtears fast enough. These repeated movements cause more damage if you do not stretch or warm up before starting.
The inflammation associated with triceps tendonitis can also occur if the tendon is struck with more force than it can withstand.
Triceps Tendonitis Symptoms
There are many triceps tendonitis symptoms, including:
- Pain: Pain in your elbow, triceps muscle, or shoulder is the most common symptom. The pain will feel more intense with pushing or pulling movements.
- Weakness: The strength in your triceps muscles and shoulder may decrease because the tendon cannot fully support the function of the muscle.
- Swelling and redness: Inflammation will make your elbow swell. Because there is an increase in blood flow to that area, you may experience redness.
The symptoms may overlap with more severe issues, such as tendon tears, fractures, or osteoarthritis. You should see a medical professional if your triceps tendonitis symptoms worsen or do not improve after resting and icing your elbow for a few days
How is Triceps Tendonitis Diagnosed?
Your doctor will complete a physical exam to diagnose triceps tendonitis. The exam may include pressing on your elbow to assess the swelling and any pain you may feel. Your doctor may also test your range of motion and strength by asking you to perform specific elbow or shoulder movements.
Using non-invasive diagnostic tools such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, x-ray, or ultrasound may also be necessary to understand the extent of the damage.
Triceps Tendonitis Treatment
The severity of your injury will determine which strategy your doctor recommends. Mild cases of triceps tendonitis may improve with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Over-the-counter medications may also help relieve the pain.
More severe cases may require physical therapy sessions to increase the strength and movement range of the triceps tendon. Surgery may also be necessary if the damage does not improve with other treatments.
The first step to treatment includes stopping all activities that aggravate the area. Compressing your elbow with a bandage or wrap and keeping your elbow elevated above your heart will help lessen swelling and redness. Along with resting the tendon, you can apply a cold compress or ice pack to your elbow for 20 minutes to help reduce pain.
Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen will decrease swelling. Your doctor may provide you exercises and stretches to rebuild the strength in the tendon.
If RICE and strengthening exercises do not work, your doctor may consider additional treatments, such as corticosteroid injections: These injections help reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor will inject the corticosteroid into the injured area. Repeated injections can potentially weaken the tendon, so this treatment is not appropriate for triceps tendonitis that has lasted more than 90 days.
Severe damage, such as a partially or completely torn tendon, may require surgical repair. Surgery is often recommended if the tendon has suffered a partial or complete tear. The operation allows doctors to replace the triceps tendon or reattach it to the bone. After surgery, your arm will need to be immobilized in a splint or cast to promote complete healing.
People from across Georgia trust Resurgens Orthopaedics for relief from their triceps tendonitis symptoms. Schedule an appointment with our expert physicians now!