The triceps tendon is located in the back of the arm. It attaches the triceps brachii muscle to the back of the elbow. Popping sounds in the triceps tendon can be attributed to several causes from minor to severe. Shifting of the triceps tendon during exercise movements like bar dips or rope push downs, may cause a popping sound but is minor compared to the more serious cause of a complete ruptured triceps tendon.
Triceps tendonitis is an inflammation of the triceps tendon. This condition occurs when excessive tension or force is placed on the triceps tendon through repetitive motions or heavy weight, according to PhysioAdvisor.com. Symptoms of triceps tendonitis are popping sounds, pain above the back of the elbow, soreness performing triceps extension exercises and mild swelling.
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Ruptured Triceps Tendon
A ruptured triceps tendon is a severe and rare injury, according to SportsMd.com. It involves the complete tearing of the tendon which presents symptoms of severe pain, swelling, limited mobility and a popping sound. This injury can be caused by lifting heavy weights in a pushing or elbow extension exercise, falling on your hands, or overusing the tendon in triceps exercises.
Treatment for Triceps Tendon Injuries
Triceps tendonitis can be treated with rest and ice therapy. However, a ruptured triceps tendon requires a visit to your doctor. According to SportsMd.com, ruptured triceps tendons typically require surgery, immobilization, and an extensive rehab program especially if you desire to return to exercising or playing sports. In both ruptured tendons and tendonitis, medications like ibuprofen can be prescribed to relieve the pain and inflammation.
Other Causes of Popping
The less severe cause for popping in the triceps tendon is a change of positions in the tendon. According to the Library Of Congress' Everyday Mysteries, when a joint moves the tendon could make a popping sound as it returns to its original position. Additionally, ligaments may tighten and cause a popping sound when the joint moves.
If the popping causes pain, seek medical attention. A doctor will need to check out your elbow to make sure the pain isn't caused by a more serious injury like tendonitis or a ruptured tendon. Additionally, if you continue to experience popping sounds during the same exercises, check with your doctor to see if you should continue with those exercises or find safer alternatives.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.