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What is a triceps muscle tear?

A triceps muscle tear is damage to the fibres of the muscle group on the back of the upper arm. It is also known as a pulled triceps muscle, triceps muscle strain and a triceps muscle rupture. Physiotherapy can reduce symptoms of a triceps muscle tear.

What can cause a triceps muscle tear?

A triceps muscle tear is normally caused by a forcible contraction of the triceps muscle. The bicep is forcibly contracted; and therefore, vulnerable to tearing, in activities involving straightening of the elbow. This includes performing a ‘pushing’ movement away from your body, for example press ups or a ‘bench press’ whilst weightlifting.

What are the symptoms of a triceps muscle tear?

The immediate sensation felt when the triceps muscle is torn is pain on the back of the upper arm. This pain is often accompanied by a ‘tearing’ sensation. With minor tears you may be able to continue activities or sport with minimal restriction. However, the pain and tightness may gradually increase following the exercise as bleeding and swelling occurs around the injured muscle. Other symptoms include:

What should I do if I have a triceps muscle tear?

The first 24–48 hours are important in the management of a triceps muscle tear. Swelling is part of the normal healing process; however, excess swelling can delay healing and cause further damage to the tissues. To control the amount of swelling, by reducing blood flow to the injured area, the RICE regime should be followed (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

You should continue the RICE regime until you arrange an assessment with a physiotherapist. Your initial assessment should ideally be within 48 hours of your injury.

What shouldn’t I do if I have a triceps muscle tear?

If you have a triceps muscle tear then you should avoid any activities which increase blood flow to the injured muscle for the first 48 hours. These include hot showers, elbow stretches, heat rubs, sports massage, consumption of alcohol and excessive activity. These activities can all increase bleeding within the triceps muscle, leading to further pain, prolonging your recovery.

Physiotherapy for a triceps muscle tear.

Physiotherapy is important in the treatment of a triceps muscle tear. At the initial assessment your physiotherapist can diagnose your injury, explain which tissues you have damaged and to what extent they are damaged. Following the assessment your physiotherapist can give you an idea of how long the injury should take to heal. Treatment varies dependent on the severity of the tear. The main aim of initial treatment is to speed up recovery by reducing pain and swelling and enhancing the healing of the injured muscle fibres. As you improve, your physiotherapist will provide you with a programme of exercises specifically designed for you. These exercises will accelerate your return to normal activity and / or participation in sport by focusing on increasing your range of movement, strength and function. Other treatment options include: To arrange a physiotherapy appointment call Physio.co.uk on 0330 088 7800 or book online.

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