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Am J Sports Med. 2004 Mar;32(2):431-4.

Triceps tendon ruptures in professional football players.

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  • 1University of Kentucky Sports Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.



Distal rupture of the triceps tendon is a rare injury, and treatment guidelines are not well established.


Football players with triceps tendon ruptures will be able to return to their sport with minimal functional deficits.


Uncontrolled retrospective review.


Twenty-one partial and complete ruptures of the triceps tendon were identified in 19 National Football League players over a period of 6 years. Team physicians retrospectively reviewed training room, clinical, and operative notes for each of these players.


Most of the injured players were linemen. The most common mechanism of injury was an eccentric load to a contracting triceps. Seven players had prodromal symptoms prior to injury, and 5 had received a cortisone injection. Eleven elbows with complete tears underwent surgical repair. Of 10 players with partial tears, 6 healed without surgery. One player suffered a subsequent complete tear requiring surgery, and 3 with residual pain and weakness underwent surgical repair following the season. Two surgical complications occurred, both requiring a second operation. All of the players but 1 returned to play at least one season of professional football after their injury.


Partial triceps tendon ruptures can heal without functional deficit. Surgical repair for complete ruptures generally produces good functional results and allows return to play.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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