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What is Triceps Tendinopathy?

  • Triceps Tendinopathy is a term used to describe an injury to the tendons of the triceps. The triceps brachii muscle is a large, thick muscle on the back of the upper arm that is composed of three heads (tri = three, cep = head). Each of the three heads originates in a different location, but all three combine to form a single tendon that inserts into the posterior elbow (Tiwana, et. al., 2023).

  • Injuries to the triceps tendon near the elbow are among the rarest tendinopathies around the elbow and little research has been conducted for this reason. (Donaldson, et. al, 2014)

  • Ruptures to these tendons are even more rare and account for <1% of all upper extremity tendon ruptures and 2% of all tendon injuries (Sharma et al, 2005). Incidence of rupture increases with chronic renal disease with secondary hyperparathyroidism, olecranon bursitis and steroid injections (Donaldson, et. al, 2014).

  • Many people often refer to triceps tendinopathy as “posterior tennis elbow” due to the similarity in symptom presentation and treatment options.

What are the symptoms?

  • Patients that have triceps tendinopathy often complain of increased symptoms while doing activity.

  • Individuals may also experience swelling and palpable tenderness over the triceps during examination. Pain may also be present with resistance of wrist extension.

  • The pain is often worse at the end of the day compared to the morning and worsens throughout activities.

  • If you feel a “gap” along your triceps tendon, there is a strong possibility that you have sustained a triceps rupture. (Donaldson, et. al, 2014)

What are my treatment options?

  • For those with triceps tendinopathy, treatment options are categorized into operative and non-operative.

  • Individuals that have not sustained a complete rupture of the tendon typically utilize the non-surgical option. Donaldson et. al. states that “Surgical intervention should be considered after a minimum of 1 year of attempted conservative treatment with debridement of the affected tendon and early mobilization.”. They also note that following 6 months of conservative care, if pain is still present, to attempt other courses of non-operative treatment such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections.


  • Donaldson, O., Vannet, N., Gosens, T., & Kulkarni, R. (2014). Tendinopathies Around the Elbow Part 2: Medial Elbow, Distal Biceps and Triceps Tendinopathies. Shoulder & elbow, 6(1), 47–56.

  • Sharma, S. C., Singh, R., Goel, T., & Singh, H. (2005). Missed diagnosis of triceps tendon rupture: a case report and review of literature. Journal of orthopaedic surgery (Hong Kong), 13(3), 307–309.

  • Demirhan, M., & Ersen, A. (2017). Distal triceps ruptures. EFORT open reviews, 1(6), 255–259.

  • Tiwana MS, Sinkler MA, Bordoni B. Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Triceps Muscle. [Updated 2023 Aug 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: