The triceps muscle, which allows the arm to straighten, runs from the shoulder to the elbow. It is attached to the adjacent bones by a large tendon. Damage to this muscle or tendon are know as triceps injuries. Complications from triceps injuries are uncommon, with most injuries healing on their own, as long as the triceps is rested for a sufficient period of time.
Types of triceps injury or trauma may include:
- Muscle strain or pull
- Tendonitis, inflammation of the tendon
- Tendinosis, chronic degeneration caused by repeated injuries
- Triceps rupture, a tearing of the tendon
Tendinopathy is an inclusive term referring to any disorder of the tendon.
Causes of Triceps Injury
Triceps injury or trauma may be caused in a number of ways, including:
- Overstretching the arm
- Receiving a sudden blow
- Forcibly straightening the arm
- Repeatedly overusing the upper arm
Triceps injuries are common in athletes and sports enthusiasts and may result from repetitive injury, such as hitting too many squash or tennis balls, lifting too much weight, pitching too many baseball games or playing lacrosse, volleyball or football too intensely. Risk of triceps injury increases if individuals are obese, have overdeveloped biceps, or fail to warm up sufficiently before exercising.
Symptoms of Triceps Injury
The primary symptom of a triceps injury is pain, which may be severe. This pain is intensified by full straightening or completely bending the arm. Other symptoms of triceps injuries may include:
- Redness or bruising
- Arm stiffness
- Inability to straighten or bend the arm
Any or all of these symptoms may be apparent. Swelling, soreness or discoloration normally occur on the upper arm near the elbow.
Treatment of Triceps Injury
Common treatments for triceps injuries include:
- Applying ice
- Taking an anti-inflammatory medicine
- Wearing a strap around the lower-triceps area
The compression of the strap is especially useful when performing activities that cause discomfort. As soon as the pain subsides, the patient with a triceps injury should begin doing gentle exercises to prevent stiffness. Stretching with resistance bands is particularly helpful.
A physician should be consulted for triceps injuries that cause significant pain or do not improve with home treatments.