Fully-Torn Triceps Tendon

Mount Pleasant, IA

#21 Sep 15, 2011
Thank you all for your post.

I tore my tricep, all but "a couple of fibers". It was almost a complete tear. They thought it strange that such a small attachment was still there. My tricep movement was painfull under the load of my arm.

similarities to a couple of posters here: Looking back after rupture I remembered I had hit my elbow so hard I thought I may have broken it. I soon forgot about that but got fluid on the bursa. 3 weeks later I had that drained. Went back a week later with half as much fluid. It was drained and cortizone injected.

I took off the next day for Wyoming. Backpacked 4 days. I used the walking stick mostly with my right arm. Day 5 I climbed Cloud Peak mountain. This type activity is normal for this old man. When at the top and going along with walking stick it felt like a bolt of lightening and a burn went through the back of my arm above elbow. That was it. I'll spare the details of the retreat and next two days out to start drive home.

I'll describe my surgery and current condition when I see this show up.


Mount Pleasant, IA

#22 Sep 16, 2011
I tore tricep on August 4th. I had surgery August 19. I was in a splint from arm pit to hand for 2 weeks. Then I got a brace set at 45 degrees. Soon after surgery I noticed my little finger, part of my ring finger, and part of my palm was numb. They said don't worry about it because you have good circulation there.

I had to stay in the hospital for a couple extra days because I am on blood thinners and had to get my clotting factors regulated (whole other story)

For several days after I got home I slept without much pain and did not take pain pills. Then I started getting agonizing pain about 1am. So I sometimes took the pain pills. I told the doctor when I went back at two weeks post op and got the splint. He checked it out and said it would probably be ok.

after another week of bad pain at night I googled. I figured out I had Cubital tunnel syndrom from preasure on the ulna nerve. Using my arm during the day seems to move the nerve around I think and makes it hurt little or none. I found some exercises today before I went for my PT. PT folks also checked me out and agreed. My doctors office finally got back with me today after notifying them of the worsening condition and I go back in next tuesday for him to check me out.

I will update some more soon.

Tom (DT2L)

Cleveland, OH

#23 Sep 20, 2011
I tore my triceps tendon on August 15. 100%, full thickness-tear, completely off the bone. I was doing floor presses. Heard a pop, then a tearing sounds. I had surgery on August 18. My Dr. was fantastic. When I told him what I did (Olympic lifter, etc.) he had his staff research techniques and told me that he was going to use a new technique and materials for the surgery. The new materials are 33% stronger than what's been used previously.

The surgery could not have gone better. I got the cast/splint off two weeks post surgery. I began using the hand and the arm for anything that I could while still in the cast/splint. I had 100% strength back in the hand after a few days (I squeezed a stress ball whenever I could). The arm seemed fairly useless when they took the splint off. I could straighten it fully but could not bend it much at all. He instructed me to begin assisted ROM work a few times per day. And to keep the arm in and out of a sling.

After a few days I ditched the sling, but was very careful with the arm. After two weeks assisted ROM I had full ROM. I then began - per instructions - unassisted ROM work. After a few days of this I added some VERY MINOR movements for strength: Triceps extension and kick-backs with a stapler; a triceps pressdown of sorts with my seat-belt. VERY LIGHT STUFF. But, I've noticed a huge difference in the arm. In fact, aside from some pain at the tip of the elbow where the screws are (as well as the scar from the surgery), I forget that I had surgery. However, I still baby the arm and do not try anything risky. My workouts consist of DB floor presses, standing one-hand DB presses, and one-hand DB rows all with my uninjured side. I also perform box squats with a safety squat bar three times weekly, as well as some incline treadmill work. I firmly believe that my recovery has been accelerated by my body's efforts to recovery from workouts (production of test, etc.).

I'm five weeks out from surgery. I see my doc a week from tomorrow. I'm confident he'll be pleased - if not blown away - with my progress to date. I do not anticipate a need for PT. Amazingly, I've already recovered quite a bit of muscle tone in my injured triceps. I plan to be very conservative in how I load my push exercises. I will not do any two handed push movements until week 8 post surgery. I'll begin with two weeks of empty bar benches for 5x5. I'll then add five to ten pounds weekly until I'm six months post surgery. Then I'll being push workouts in earnest to recover my lost strength. And then some.

South Africa

#24 Sep 20, 2011
any suggestion on good PT, maybe a link or just a few excerices with a rep range, i have looked online but come short

Cleveland, OH

#25 Sep 21, 2011
If you have questions, spend some time - a session or two - with a PT. If you have a lot of experience training, I'd say you know your body and the movements that will isolate the triceps best (kick-backs, extension, pulldowns, etc. - not exercises I would normally do, but..). Start very light and work in the 8-10 range. That's what I've come to understand from talking with the doc and his medical staff. I'm also doing to some wall push ups, working from a wide position to a narrow position. Hope this helps.

Mount Prospect, IL

#26 Sep 27, 2011
Ok, doc said I'm healed, now time to build strength back. While i know that this will take time, I'm starting to feel just a bit down.
Here's what I'm doing at 5 months post op v. where i was at prior to my 3/15/11 surgery-
Bench press- 45 lbs x 2 sets of 20 v. 250 x 4 sets of 12 (19%)
Military press- 30 lbs. x 2 x 20 v. 100 x 4 sets of 12 (33%)
Lat pull down- 50 lbs x 2 x 20 v. 160 x 4 x 12 (34%)
Row (seated)- 50 lbs x 2 x 20 v. 150 x 4 x 12 (30%)
Tricep curls (ouch!)- 25 lbs x 2 x 20 v. 75 x 4 x 12 (33%)
Curls- 30 x 20 x 2 v. 60 x 4 x 12 (50%)
No dips, no pull-ups (did 20 dead hang p/u prior to injury- USMC standard)
I have to believe that will get back, and- and again- know it will take time, but at 54 years old, you wonder if you'll ever get back.
Street motorcycling isn't a problem; bicycling is ok as long as it's a mountain bike on a groomed trail...

Mount Prospect, IL

#27 Sep 27, 2011
Pat- good info- please continue to post recovery progress.

Cleveland, OH

#28 Sep 28, 2011
Bill wrote:
Pat- good info- please continue to post recovery progress.
Saw my dr. this morning. He was amazed. I have full range of motion. No pain. And have regained some strength in the muscle. He does not recommend physical therapy. He's cleared me to do some heavier isolation strengthening of the triceps (up to 10 pounds). He asked me how much I used to bench before I got hurt. I told him 360. He told me me to target 365 or more because He expects a 100% recovery with the tendon being stronger than before because he suspects I had a significant partial tear for up to two years before it completely detached.

In real terms: I'm six weeks out form surgery tomorrow. I have 100% ROM. I do NOT notice or think about the injury 99% of the time. The only impact to my lifestyle right now is that I am unable to do heavy training with the repaired arm. The Dr. feels that I'll be completely unrestricted to at 12 weeks (i.e. push whatever I can handle at that point).

Cleveland, OH

#29 Sep 28, 2011
Oh. I told him my best clean and jerk was 385 in 2004. I asked him if I can beat that. He said he didn't know, but my triceps tendon will not be the reason I don't.

For anyone out there worried about a full recovery, pay attention: Your doctor does not know anything about people who train as most of us do. Our recovery and long term prognosis is much different that the average couch potato. My doctor educated himself to better understand what I was asking of him. He's told me that the risk of re-injury, once I'm healed (he says that's at 12 weeks, max), is NOT related to the fact that the tendon has been surgically repaired. Thus, I'll not be restricted. Whatever I can handle is what I'll do. The issues come in when they have to shorten the tendon. That results in a loss of strength. They didn't have to do that in my case. So, the sky is the limit. 180kg. clean and jerk in 18 months.

Newton, IA

#30 Sep 28, 2011
Wow! I surprised at all the updates in the last two weeks. It's good to hear people doing so good.

Back from my last post: I saw the doctor again at 3.5 weeks post op because of pain. I already figured out it was from Cubital Tunnel Syndrom. He verified that to be the case and felt like it would get better (pain). He had me push on him with tricep movement and was pleased enough with checking me out that he said I could stop wearing th bracee. That would be at 3.5 weeks post op.

I have been doing the PT. I'm 5.5 weeks out from post op. My range of motion is at 100 degrees. It is nice to be able to use my arem and do some thing with it. I still have the nerve the nerve problem in my hand. It may be a tad better. The pain is better.

I should get full range of motion and be able to to anything I want.

Thanks again to all that shared.

bill b

Davison, MI

#31 Sep 29, 2011
i found out that i have a full thickness tear on my rt tricep tend at olecranon..talked to dr and mri showed that it had been torn. he said surgery will be required. i did mine by impacting the elbow while it was bent at 90, the impact was so severe that it tore the tendon by the ulnar nerve. i am nervous about surgery but am feeling more assured by the posts ive read. mine happend on sept 1.today is the 29th.. i am a little concerned about the time frame for the repair. dr said some scar tissue may make the recovery a little harder..i will do follow up post op

Cleveland, OH

#32 Oct 3, 2011

listen to you body. don't push the recovery, but don't sit idly by waiting for it to happen, either. i was scared as hell when i read the horror stories about the surgery, time-frame for recover, etc. but, if i'm being objective, the REAL impact to my normal life was about one month. after that, i had full range of motion and was back to working out my uninjured side, squats, cardio, all that. now, going on seven weeks out, i'm doing two hand exercises, lightly, and working my way back up. it's a challenge, but you're mind quickly adjusts to the task at hand: getting to 100%. don't sweat it. attack it.

Chase City, VA

#33 Oct 12, 2011
is it possible to fix such a condition after a long period of time. it has been over a year and i can feel a portion of the muscle at the top side of my elbow. i do have full range of motion but very limited on strength especially when that portion of the tricep is called into play in that particular movement. when lifting i can feel the bunched up tissue engorging with blood and it becomes harder to extend arm out or lock out. i guess its impairing my elbow movement. cosmetically u can see part of the outer head of the tricep is missing and the whole upper arm has seen alot of atrophy. can this be fixed or will i have to live with a disfigured arm.

Cleveland, OH

#34 Oct 12, 2011
Update on rehab: A lot of soreness in the days after a triceps involved workout. I'm working with light poundages for high reps (20). Benching in the neighborhood of 85 pounds. FEELS like 85 pounds, very light. But the later reps cause pain in the elbow. It's becoming more tolerable as I break down scar tissue and adhesion. Working with light barbell curls. Did 95lbs. for 10 reps. Coming slowly back. Doing some 'girl' pushups (on knees), triceps kickbacks and extension. The extensions cause a lot of pain and I'm forced to use very light weights (2-3 pounds). But, again, it's coming back.

Cleveland, OH

#35 Oct 12, 2011
Marty - You'll have to have that repaired surgically to regain any strength. Unfortunately, based on what I was told by my surgeon, it's doubtful that you'll regain near 100% strength due the fact that it's an old injury. The triceps has retracted and will have to be shortened before re-attachment. Less tissue, less length = weaker muscle.

Chase City, VA

#36 Oct 13, 2011
thank u pat i appreciate the information

Chase City, VA

#37 Oct 13, 2011
oh and good luck on ur rehab. i wish u the best and hope ur recovery gets increasingly better. patience is the key i guess....if i had more of that i probably wouldnt have the injury i have...i would have let it heal when it warned me something was wrong. best of luck and u have a good weekend

Douglas, GA

#38 Oct 16, 2011
Bill B, I'd like to hear how it went.
Marty, Could they help you?

I'm at 8 weeks post op.
Surgery just over 2 weeks after tear. Bad pain and numbness from Cubital Tunnel Syndrom.

Now I'm 8 weeks post op. I have close to 90% flexibility. I see Doc again in 2 days. I try not to use too much force with the tricep but I am living a fairly normal life. Chain saw, moving large rocks with pry bar, tractor work, hauling limbs, loading/unloading logs, mechanical work on tractor, throw frisbe. I have to hold back and think about what muscle I am using. It is nice to be able to put a Q tip in my ear.

I still have the numbness from the cubital tunnel syndrom. I have lost a little strength in the hand. It might be just a little better, not sure. It does not seem to be getting worse.

Best wishes to all.

DT2L (Tom)

Cleveland, OH

#39 Oct 20, 2011
Benched 135 lbs. yesterday. I'm nine weeks post-surgery. Did a single. Felt easy but I know better. I'll work up five pounds a week until January then start the real work.

Wheeling, IL

#40 Oct 21, 2011
Update on 3/15/11 surgery:
About 7 mos post op at this point, and things are progressing well. Very slow increase with the weight lifting, no pain, no restricted range of motion. Not in a rush to get to pre-op weight levels, but will take my time and get there evnetually. Goal is to increase about 15%/month.
Having a good doc that takes the time to understand your lifestyle and works with you post-op and a good PT and PT program early in the process was key to my success in my opinion.

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