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Triceps Tendonitis

Triceps tendonitis refers to inflammation of the triceps tendon. Triceps tendonitis can produce pain, weakness, and swelling at the back of the elbow. Athletes who partake in sports that involve throwing or weightlifting are susceptible to this condition due to the stress they place on their elbow

Triceps Tendonitis Hero Image 2

Triceps tendonitis refers to inflammation of the triceps tendon. Triceps tendonitis can produce pain, weakness, and swelling at the back of the elbow. Athletes who partake in sports that involve throwing or weightlifting are susceptible to this condition due to the stress they place on their elbow.

What causes Triceps Tendonitis?

Triceps tendonitis is caused by repetitive overuse of the tendon joining the triceps muscle to the elbow. The condition is common among athletes who play sports like tennis and baseball, which involve repetitive arm movements like swinging or throwing forcefully, and sports that involve repetitive lifting, such as weightlifting.

Triceps tendonitis is common in these sports:

• Baseball (pitchers)
• Softball (pitchers)
• Tennis
• Weightlifting

Symptoms

Triceps tendonitis is characterized by pain around the back of the arm. Other symptoms may include:

• Mild swelling behind the elbow
• Pain with extending or straightening the arm

When to see a doctor

If you experience these symptoms, you should see your doctor. He/she will take a medical history and conduct a physical exam, and will want to check your arm’s range of motion and strength in comparison to your non-injured arm. Your doctor may also put pressure on different parts of your arm to determine the greatest area of pain. If you feel pain at the triceps tendon insertion behind your elbow, you may have triceps tendonitis.

An x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test may also be recommended to help make a diagnosis. X-rays provide pictures of your bones, while MRI tests show clear images of soft tissues in the elbow. Both tests can help confirm if your symptoms are caused by tendonitis or another problem.

Non-operative treatment

Triceps tendonitis is treated conservatively, without surgery, in most cases. Initially, treatment of triceps tendonitis usually includes rest and stopping play that aggravates the injury. Ice for 10 minutes every hour for the first couple days after the injury may be recommended. Your doctor may also prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID), like aspirin or ibuprofen, for pain relief and to reduce inflammation. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy as part of your treatment.

You can also try these exercises at home:

Triceps Tendonitis

Surgical Treatment

Triceps tendonitis almost always heals without surgery. In very rare cases, surgery may be needed to remove the damaged area and repair the tendon.

Recovery

As most triceps tendonitis is treated non-operatively, the tendon usually heals within four to six weeks.

Athletes can also help prevent further injuries by properly warming up before play and icing the elbow if it hurts after activity.

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