Open Triceps Tendon Repair

An open triceps tendon repair (or tenodesis) is the surgical treatment for a triceps tendon that has ruptured from its attachment on the back of the arm above the elbow. Tenodesis means to reattach a tendon. Triceps tendon ruptures must be reattached, or the patient will lose motion of the arm/elbow and be unable to perform certain movements with the arm. Patients will also develop weakness in the arm, limiting their activities.

A triceps tendon repair is an open procedure done through an approximately 5 cm incision on the back of the arm directly above the elbow. First, the ruptured or torn tendon is located by the surgeon. Once located, the end of the tendon is cleared of any damaged tissue so the tendon has a fresh edge. Then the end of the tendon is reattached down to the bone with strong suture known as Fiberwire.

Post Operative Instructions:


  • If you underwent surgery to reattach your biceps tendon at the elbow, then you will be placed in a soft cast for one week after your surgery. This will limit the movement of your elbow so as not to disrupt your biceps tendon repair. You will also be given a sling that you may wear for comfort.
  • You may move your shoulder in any direction that is comfortable. Do not force the motion, because this will likely cause pain.


  • An injection of local anesthesia was injected into your shoulder after the completion of the operation. This medication will wear off in five to six hours. Begin taking the pain medication (for example, Vicodin, Percocet, etc.) immediately when you get home. This will prevent you from having severe pain. Take the pain medication every four hours until you go to bed.
  • The day after surgery you can take 600 mg of ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) every six hours to help with inflammation and pain. This medication will help cut down the use of narcotic-based pain medication. However, if you still have pain after taking ibuprofen, continue taking the pain medication every four to six hours as needed.
  • A sleeping medication (for example, Ambien) is also provided to help you sleep at night. Take one tablet 30 minutes before you plan to sleep.


  • Your dressing is NOT waterproof. Do not get your soft cast wet. When you bathe, cover your arm with a plastic bag or trash bag to avoid getting your incisions wet.
  • Your soft cast will be removed at your first post-op visit. At that point you can start getting your incisions wet.


  • Please call the office prior to, or immediately following, your surgery in order to schedule a postoperative appointment. This should be scheduled 7-10 days after surgery. At that visit your stitches will be removed and you will be given a prescription to begin physical therapy.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our assistant at (310) 659-2910 extension 3048.

Download the postoperative instructions for your procedure (PDF) 

Recovery Timeline:

Day of surgery: Arrive one to two hours prior to surgery. Procedure will take approximately one to one and a half hours, and recovery time is one hour. For immediate post-op instructions, download the instruction sheet.

One week post-op: First follow-up visit with Dr. Snibbe/Jennifer. Your cast will be removed, and your stitches will be taken out. Start icing the surgical area two to three times a day (or more if needed). Discontinue the sling as soon as possible to avoid stiffness. Physical therapy will be prescribed. Start physical therapy immediately to work on range of motion. Do not do any active biceps exercises or hold anything in that hand (not even a cell phone) for the first month after surgery.

Four weeks post-op: Second follow-up visit. Range of motion and strength test. Physical therapy will continue to improve range of motion. Mild stiffness is still common. You can start active biceps exercises, but still no resistance. You can start holding up to 2 lbs. in your hand (cell phone, coffee mug, etc.).

Eight weeks post-op: Third follow-up visit. Range of motion and strength testing. If additional range of motion or strength training is needed, continue physical therapy to work on these. Pain should be mostly resolved at this point.

Twelve weeks post-op: Fourth follow-up visit. Range of motion should be full/normal. You should feel stronger and have very little pain, if any. Near to full recovery is expected at this time.

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