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Triceps & Elbow Pain

author image Paula Quinene
Paula Quinene is an Expert/Talent, Writer and Content Evaluator for Demand Media, with more than 1,500 articles published primarily in health, fitness and nutrition. She has been an avid weight trainer and runner since 1988. She has worked in the fitness industry since 1990. She graduated with a Bachelor's in exercise science from the University of Oregon and continues to train clients as an ACSM-Certified Health Fitness Specialist.
Triceps & Elbow Pain
Use an ice pack to treat a sprained elbow or strained triceps.

A triceps or elbow injury may result when your elbow is forced to bend while you are actively straightening your arm. An injury can also occur when you're constantly landing or pushing with your elbow in sports like football or wrestling. If you're a tennis or golf player, repetitive arm motions can irritate the bony attachment sites of your arm muscles, causing pain.

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Triceps pain may be caused by a muscle strain or a triceps tendon rupture. If your elbow ligaments are sprained or ruptured, it will cause pain in your elbow as well as in the triceps. An inflamed bursa, tendon or bone will also produce pain, as will a fracture in your elbow or a dislocation of your elbow joint.


A strained muscle or sprained elbow ligaments produces inflammation along with the pain. Pain may also radiate down your forearm. If you rupture a ligament in your elbow or your triceps tendon, you will likely hear a “pop.” A swollen olecranon bursa, located at the bony tip of your elbow, may be quite painful and warm to the touch, according to the book “Examination of Musculoskeletal Injuries.”


Ruptured or sprained elbow ligaments prevent you from completely straightening your arm. You may also feel as if your elbow is unstable. A strained triceps or triceps tendon makes it difficult to straighten your arm against resistance. If your olecranon bursa is inflamed, you will feel pressure when you're bending your elbow, limiting your range of motion. If the elbow attachment sites for your forearm muscles are irritated, you will have difficulty gripping objects and rotating your palm to face upward or downward.


Applying an ice pack for 15 to 20 minutes can reduce pain and swelling. Place a thin towel between your skin and the ice pack. Electrical stimulation may be incorporated as part of your treatment to enhance new tissue growth and to promote healing. Once pain and inflammation have been reduced, heat can be applied to increase circulation, which also encourages healing. Progressive stretches and strengthening exercises are introduced depending on your pain tolerance and how your body responds to treatment.


Triceps and elbow injuries can be prevented by thoroughly warming up your arms before more intense sport or exercise activities. If you avoid excessive tennis and golf playing, which involve repetitive movements, you reduce your risk of arm and elbow injuries and cut your chances of suffering triceps and elbow pain.

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  • “Examination of Musculoskeletal Injuries”; Sandra Shultz, Ph.D., Peggy Houglum, Ph.D., and David Perrin, Ph.D.; 2005
  • Elbow Pain
  • “Therapeutic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Injuries”; Peggy Houglum, Ph.D.; 2005
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