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Triceps tendon rupture
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Triceps tendon rupture

Contributors: Kole E. Niemi MD, Stephanie E. Siegrist MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Causes / typical injury mechanism: Triceps tendon rupture is typically an acute injury caused by sudden eccentric contraction of the triceps, a fall on an outstretched hand, or a direct injury to the tendon of the triceps.

Classic history and presentation: Triceps tendon rupture is an acute injury caused by sudden forces seen in sports such as competitive weightlifting. The typical patient is a competitive weightlifter presenting to the ED after attempting a heavy lift in which eccentric forces were placed on the triceps. The patient may have felt a "pop" before pain in the posterior elbow. Swelling and bruising are seen on the posterior elbow as well as loss of active extension against gravity.

  • Age – approximately 46 years, with most ruptures occurring between 17-61 years
  • Sex / gender – more common in males versus females (approximately 2:1)
Risk factors:
  • Anabolic steroid use
  • Kidney disease
  • Oral steroid use
  • Steroid injection into the elbow bursa
  • Diabetes
  • Familial tendinopathy
  • Infection
  • Fluoroquinolone antibiotic use
Pathophysiology: Rupture of the triceps typically occurs at the tendon-bone junction resulting from a forceful eccentric contraction of the muscle.

Grade / classification system: The rupture is described as partial or complete. Ruptures can also be described by the location of the tear (eg, muscle belly, musculotendinous junction, or tendinous insertion).


M66.829 – Spontaneous rupture of other tendons, unspecified upper arm
S46.399A – Other injury of muscle, fascia and tendon of triceps, unspecified arm, initial encounter

209757007 – Rupture triceps tendon

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Last Reviewed:11/12/2023
Last Updated:11/21/2023
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Triceps tendon rupture
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