Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Ruptured Triceps Tendon

A ruptured triceps tendon is a tear or rupture of the thick tendon that connects the triceps muscle at the back of the upper arm to the olecranon (bony prominence) at the elbow joint.

Common Symptoms

  • Pain and tenderness at the back of the elbow
  • Swelling and bruising around the elbow
  • Weakness in extending or straightening the arm
  • Palpable defect or gap at the back of the elbow where the tendon should be

Cause & Anatomy

  • Acute trauma like a fall on an outstretched arm or direct blow to the elbow
  • Forceful contraction of the triceps muscle during activities like weightlifting
  • Degenerative changes or weakening of the tendon due to age, chronic conditions, or steroid use

The triceps brachii is a large muscle on the back of the upper arm that extends the elbow joint. Its tendon attaches to the olecranon process of the ulna bone at the elbow.


  • Physical examination to assess pain, swelling, weakness in extension, and palpable defect
  • Imaging studies like MRI to evaluate the extent and location of the tear


Proper warm-up, gradual progression of activities, and avoiding excessive loading on the triceps tendon can help prevent ruptures.


Treatment depends on the extent of the tear and patient factors:

  • Partial tears <50% tendon involvement: Conservative treatment with immobilization and rehabilitation
  • Partial tears >50% or complete tears: Surgical repair is recommended


The ruptured tendon is reattached to the olecranon using suture anchors, bone tunnels, or tendon grafts if needed. The elbow is immobilized initially.


A graduated rehabilitation program over 12 weeks focuses on:

  • Immobilization for 1-2 weeks
  • Gradual range of motion from weeks 2-6 using a brace
  • Isometric and resistance exercises from weeks 6-12


Can a ruptured triceps tendon heal without surgery?
Partial tears may heal conservatively, but complete tears require surgical repair for optimal function.

How long does it take to recover from triceps tendon surgery?
Full recovery can take 4-6 months with rehabilitation.

What is the success rate of triceps tendon surgery?
Surgical repair generally restores good function, but strength may not return to 100% of the uninjured side.

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