Rehabilitation & Recovery

Avoid These 3 Common Causes Of Tricep Tendonitis Pain

tricep tendonitis pain

The triceps brachii are a group of muscles that run down the back of your upper arm which are responsible for extending and straightening the arm at the elbow joint whilst helping to provide stability to the shoulder. Whenever you perform weight bearing exercises such as push ups, bench presses or other repetitive movements such as throwing, you’ll be activating your triceps.  

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The triceps muscle runs from the shoulder joint and down to the elbow bone and is connected by way of a thick and durable tendon.  During activities such as ball throwing or tricep dips, the tendon can become aggravated resulting in inflammation of the triceps tendon.  This is known as triceps tendonitis.  

In this article we’ll look at what causes this condition, alongside the symptoms to look out for and potential ways of treating it.  

anatomy of tricep tendonitis pain

What Is Triceps Tendonitis?

Triceps tendonitis, sometimes called triceps tendinopathy, is a condition that affects the tendon which connects the elbow bone (the olecranon) to the triceps muscles.  Any activity that involves pushing away from the body engages the triceps muscles, and when such movements are performed repeatedly this can result in inflammation and subsequent pain.   

What Causes Triceps Tendonitis Pain?

The primary cause of triceps tendonitis pain is down to overuse.  This means it tends to be more common in those who perform repetitive movements during activities such as weightlifting, track and field sports including shot put and javelin, and other sports such as baseball when pitching a ball.  Certain occupations like carpentry, where someone would often use a hammer, can also lead to tricep tendonitis.  

Other causes include the following:

Overload Injury

This is where someone would perform a certain exercise targeting the triceps using heavy weight when the tendon is not strong enough to handle that weight load.  This can lead to inflammation of the tendon and subsequent pain. 

If the person continues performing this exercise without allowing for sufficient rest and recovery, this can exacerbate the problem.  

Tendon Tears

A common triceps injury is that of a tear to the tendon which can cause tricep muscle pain.  This can sometimes be confused with tendinopathy.  However, muscle tears result in sudden and sharp pain during activity whereas triceps tendonitis symptoms tend to get worse over time.  

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If you unsure it’s important to seek a correct diagnosis from your healthcare provider as treatment would be different.  

Poor Form During Exercise

Exercises such as heavy pullovers and vertical pulls can excessively stretch the long head of the triceps.  If these exercises are done incorrectly, this places even more stress on the muscle as well as the tendon and elbow joint. 

Training with correct form with a full range of motion is important to obtain the benefits from the exercise and minimize the likelihood for injury.  Remember to also perform repetitions slowly and with control.  

Tricep Tendonitis Pain Symptoms

Aches and pains associated with triceps tendinopathy are localised at the back of the arm and around the elbow joint.  The typical symptoms include the following:


If the elbow joint becomes stiff and movement of the arm is limited, this can be a sign of triceps tendonitis.  


Overtime the triceps muscles can become weak making it more difficult to perform day to day activities.  This is more likely if you don’t allow for rest, with weakness becoming worse over a period of time.  


Continually stressing the triceps tendon with repeated activities, such as performing a dumbbell shoulder press exercise, can result in pain to the tendon.  The affected area can then become inflamed, potentially indicating triceps tendonitis.  

How To Treat Triceps Tendonitis Pain

There are several ways in which to treat triceps tendon pain helping to alleviate pain and swelling.  Below are some suggested ways to help.  In the most severe cases surgical repair may be necessary.  However, this is very rare.  


The first, and most important, thing to do is to discontinue the activity that has caused triceps tendonitis in the first place.  Within a few days, symptoms should abate.


Applying ice packs to the triceps area and back of your elbow can help to reduce any swelling, in turn helping to decrease aches and pains.  

Physical Therapy

In more severe cases of triceps tendonitis, it could be a good idea to seek advice from a physical therapist who can provide several treatment options including suitable strengthening and stretching exercises.  


In the short term, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can help reduce triceps pain and inflammation.

How to Prevent Triceps Tendonitis Pain

Preventing triceps tendonitis pain involves adopting healthy habits and taking preventative measures. Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of developing this condition:

Correct Form

When performing exercises, it’s vital you adopt the correct form in order to prevent injury and to reduce the likelihood that you’ll develop tricep tendonitis.  Focus on strengthening exercises and seek the advice from a personal trainer if you’re unsure how to perform any movements.  

Adequate Rest

​If you train regularly, it’s important to factor in plenty of rest time to ensure the muscles and surrounding tendons and joints can recover properly.  Aggravation to tricep tendons can increase over time and without rest may result in an overuse injury.  


Prior to exercise, perform some stretches to the triceps to warm up the muscles ready for exercise.  Stretching can increase blood flow and provide the muscles with enough oxygen so you can be sure to get the most out of your workout.  Warming up before training can also help to prevent triceps injuries.  


Whilst triceps tendonitis pain is a common condition it can be avoided.  Adopting certain habits can help to prevent it from developing.  If you do suffer from pain and swelling to the area, be sure to seek medical attention so that an appropriate treatment plan can be put together helping to reduce symptoms and prevent future injury.  

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