What are the symptoms of a triceps tendon rupture?
Sudden and sharp posterior elbow pain after an injury is commonly reported from individuals with a suspected triceps tendon rupture. A palpable defect may also be felt in the event of a complete triceps tendon rupture. Some other complaints of a triceps tendon rupture include:
- Difficulty fully straightening the elbow against resistance
- Swelling and bruising of the posterior upper arm and elbow
- Hearing or feeling a “pop” at the time of injury
How is a triceps tendon rupture diagnosed?
A suspected triceps tendon rupture is confirmed after Dr. Patel gathers a comprehensive medical history and performs a thorough physical examination. Diagnostic imaging studies, such as x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can help Dr. Patel determine the location and type of triceps tendon rupture as well as evaluate the surrounding elbow structures for any damage.
What is the treatment for a triceps tendon rupture?
If a triceps tendon rupture is suspected, immediate medical attention is strongly suggested due to the time-sensitive nature of surgical treatment.
While non-surgical treatment for this injury is rarely recommended, initial treatment with conservative therapies may be considered for patients with a partial triceps tendon tear and not a complete rupture. A combination of rest, ice, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can mitigate any pain and swelling associated with these conditions. It should be noted that non-surgical treatment of a triceps tendon rupture can result in persistent pain and weakness, muscular cramping, permanent loss of strength, and cosmetic deformity. Therefore, it is highly advised to consult an orthopedic elbow specialist with extensive knowledge and training in treating triceps tendon ruptures to discuss appropriate treatment options.
For patients with complete triceps tendon rupture, or in the event of failed conservative therapy, surgical intervention is time-sensitive to prevent tendon retraction from the development of scar tissue. The triceps tendon is fastened back to its anatomically correct position by one of two surgical methods: 1) sutures that are passed through tunnels created in the ulna or radius bone, or 2) attaching the remaining healthy tendon with special surgical anchors that are secured within the bone. The minimally invasive technique utilized frequently decreases the amount of time needed to recover, allowing patients to return to their normal daily activities faster.