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Clin J Sport Med. 2014 May;24(3):197-204. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000010.

Diagnosis and treatment of triceps tendon injuries: a review of the literature.

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*Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; †Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brandywine Institute of Orthopedics, Pottstown, Pennsylvania; and ‡Department of Orthopedic Surgery, The CORE Institute, Phoenix, Arizona.



To elucidate mechanism of injury, nonoperative protocols, surgical techniques, rehabilitation schedules, and return to sports guidelines for partial and complete triceps tendon injuries.


The PubMed and OVID databases were searched in 2010 and peer-reviewed English language articles in 2011.


After a fall on an outstretched hand, direct trauma on the elbow, or lifting against resistance, patients often present with pain and weakness of extension. Examination may reveal a palpable tendon gap, and radiographs may reveal a Flake sign. Acute partial injuries have positive outcomes with immobilization in 30-degree flexion for 4 to 6 weeks. Primary repair for complete rupture can restore normal extensor function after 3 to 4 months. Reconstruction returns normal extensor function up to 4 years. Most authors support postoperative immobilization for 2 to 3 weeks at 30- to 40-degree flexion, flexion block bracing for an additional 3 weeks, and unrestricted activity at 6 months. Athletes may be able to return to sports after 4 to 5 weeks of recovery from a partial injury, but return may be delayed if operative tendon repair is performed.


Acute partial triceps tendon injuries may be managed conservatively at first and should be repaired primarily if this fails or if presentation is delayed. Reconstruction should first use the anconeus rotation technique. If the anconeus is devitalized, the Achilles tendon may be the allograft of choice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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