Located on the back of the upper arm, the triceps muscle functions to straighten the elbow. A torn triceps tendon occurs when the tendon is torn where it attaches on the back of the arm at the tip of the elbow. Triceps tears or ruptures often occur as a result of a fall on an outstretched hand or when a sudden force causes to the elbow to bend when it is straight or extended.
Patients who have suffered this injury complain of pain in the back of the arm at the elbow and may experience pain with bench press and push-ups. Sometimes a pop or snap is felt and heard at the time of injury. Often patients describe weakness as a symptom of a triceps tendon injury.
To diagnose a triceps tendon tear, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is obtained to help assess the location and severity of the tear. A complete rupture of the triceps tendon typically requires surgical intervention to reattach the tendon to the bone. Partial thickness tears of the triceps are first treated with therapy and activity modification prior to considering surgery.