Managing Tricep Tendonitis: Tips for a Speedy Recovery

tricep tendonitis

Tendonitis, the inflammation of a tendon, can affect various parts of the body, including the triceps. Tricep tendonitis is a condition characterized by pain, swelling, and discomfort in the tricep tendon, which connects the tricep muscles to the elbow. Whether you’re an athlete, weightlifter, or someone dealing with repetitive strain, tricep tendonitis can be a painful setback. In this blog, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and expected healing time for tricep tendonitis.

Understanding Tricep TendonitisUnderstanding Tricep Tendonitis

Tricep tendonitis is a bothersome condition that affects the tricep tendon, causing pain and discomfort in the back of the elbow. This condition often arises due to overuse or repetitive activities that strain the triceps, making it a common issue among those involving frequent arm extensions.

The Anatomy Behind Tricep Tendonitis:

Before delving into the specifics of tricep tendonitis, it’s essential to understand the anatomy involved. The triceps brachii muscle, commonly known as the triceps, is located at the back of the upper arm. It consists of three muscle heads and attaches to the olecranon, the bony prominence at the back of the elbow, via the triceps tendon.

Causes of Tricep Tendonitis:

  • Overuse and Repetitive Movements: One of the primary causes of tricep tendonitis is overuse. Activities that involve frequent arm extensions, such as weightlifting, push-ups, or repetitive throwing motions, can strain the triceps tendon over time. Athletes and individuals engaged in sports like tennis or golf may be at an increased risk.
  • Improper Exercise Form: Using incorrect form during weightlifting or exercise can place excessive stress on the triceps tendon. Poor technique, especially when lifting heavy weights, can lead to microtrauma and inflammation.
  • Age-Related Changes: As individuals age, tendons naturally lose some of their elasticity and become more susceptible to injury.
  • Direct Injury or Trauma: A sudden blow or injury to the triceps or elbow area can cause acute tricep tendonitis. This can result from accidents, falls, or impacts during sports.
  • Repetitive Stress at Work: Certain occupations or activities that require repetitive arm movements, such as painting, plumbing, or carpentry, can also increase the risk of developing tricep tendonitis over time.
  • Excessive Strain: Engaging in activities that involve lifting heavy objects or performing repetitive tasks without proper rest and recovery can strain the triceps and contribute to tendonitis.

Natural Remedies And Home Care For Managing Tricep TendonitisNatural Remedies and Home Care for Managing Tricep Tendonitis

While medical treatment may be necessary in some cases, there are several natural remedies and home care strategies that can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing. Here are some effective approaches to managing tricep tendonitis at home:

  • Rest and Avoid Overuse: One of the most crucial aspects of healing tricep tendonitis is giving the affected tendon time to rest. Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain or strain the triceps, especially those involving repetitive arm extension. Resting the tendon is essential for recovery.
  • Cold Compress: Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Use it for 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours during the initial stages of tendonitis.
  • Compression and Elevation: Consider using a compression bandage or brace to support the affected arm. Elevating your arm above heart level when resting can also help minimize swelling.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Incorporate foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties into your diet. This includes fruits, vegetables, fatty fish (like salmon), nuts, and seeds. These foods can help reduce inflammation and support the healing process.
  • Topical Pain Relief: Over-the-counter topical creams or ointments containing ingredients like menthol or capsaicin can provide temporary pain relief when applied to the affected area.
  • Heat Therapy: After the initial acute phase (usually 48-72 hours), you can switch to heat therapy. Apply a warm compress or take a warm bath to relax and soothe the muscles.
  • Proper Ergonomics: Ensure that your workspace, especially if you work on a computer, is ergonomically designed to minimize strain on your triceps and elbows.
  • Stress Reduction: High-stress levels can exacerbate inflammation and pain. Engage in stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to promote relaxation.

Exercises To Relieve Tricep Tendonitis

Here are some exercises that can help alleviate tricep tendonitis:

Tricep StretchTricep Stretch

  • Stand or sit up straight.
  • Raise your affected arm overhead and bend it at the elbow, reaching your hand down your back.
  • Use your opposite hand to gently push on your bent elbow, increasing the stretch.
  • Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times daily.

Isometric Tricep Contractions

  • Sit or stand with your back straight.
  • Bend your affected arm at the elbow, keeping your palm facing down.
  • Place your opposite hand against the inside of your bent elbow.
  • Push your bent arm against your opposite hand while resisting with your opposite hand.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax.
  • Repeat this isometric contraction 10-15 times, gradually increasing the intensity as tolerated.

Eccentric Tricep Strengthening

  • Hold a lightweight dumbbell (1-2 pounds) in your affected hand.
  • Sit or stand with your back straight.
  • Slowly extend your arm fully, straightening the elbow.
  • Lower the weight back down to the starting position over 3-5 seconds.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions, gradually increasing the weight as tolerated.

Tricep Pushdown with Resistance BandTricep Pushdown with Resistance Band

  • Attach a resistance band to a secure anchor point (like a door handle) at chest height.
  • Hold the band’s handle with your affected hand, elbow bent at 90 degrees.
  • Step away from the anchor point to create tension in the band.
  • Push the handle down, extending your arm fully without locking your elbow.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Wrist Flexor StretchWrist Flexor Stretch

  • Extend your affected arm in front of you with your palm facing down.
  • Use your opposite hand to gently bend your wrist upward, feeling the stretch in your forearm and triceps.
  • Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times daily.

Shoulder Blade SqueezesShoulder Blade Squeezes

  • Stand or sit with your arms at your sides.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together while gently pulling your affected arm back.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Remember to start with gentle stretches and low-resistance exercises, gradually increasing intensity as your tricep tendonitis improves. It’s essential to perform these exercises within your pain tolerance, avoiding any movements that cause significant discomfort. If pain persists or worsens during exercises, consult with a physical therapist or healthcare provider for a personalized rehabilitation plan and guidance.

Effective Tricep Tendonitis Treatment OptionsEffective Tricep Tendonitis Treatment Options

Depending on the severity of your condition, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • Rest and Activity Modification: Rest is crucial for the initial phase of healing. Avoid activities that aggravate your symptoms, especially those involving repetitive arm extension. Modify your daily activities to reduce strain on the triceps tendon. This may include adjusting your workspace or using assistive devices.
  • Ice Therapy: Applying ice or a cold pack to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Use it for 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours during the acute phase.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Consult your healthcare provider before using these medications, especially if you have underlying medical conditions.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a customized exercise and rehabilitation program to strengthen the triceps and improve flexibility.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: In cases of severe pain and inflammation, your healthcare provider may recommend a corticosteroid injection into the affected area to provide short-term relief.
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy: PRP therapy involves injecting a concentrated solution of your own platelets into the affected tendon. This can promote healing and reduce inflammation.
  • Bracing or Splinting: A brace or splint may be prescribed to provide support and limit movement of the affected arm, allowing the tendon to heal.
  • Shockwave Therapy: Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) uses sound waves to stimulate the healing process in the affected tendon.
  • Activity and Ergonomic Modifications: Your healthcare provider may recommend changes in your daily activities and work ergonomics to prevent overuse and reduce strain on the triceps tendon.
  • Surgical Intervention (Rare): – In cases of severe, persistent tricep tendonitis that does not respond to conservative treatments, surgical repair or debridement may be considered.

Recovery Time

Tricep tendonitis, like many tendon injuries, can vary in terms of healing time. Several factors influence how long it takes to recover from tricep tendonitis, including the severity of the injury, the treatment methods used, and individual factors. Here’s what you can generally expect:

  • Acute Phase (0-2 Weeks): During the initial phase, which typically lasts for the first two weeks, rest and gentle range-of-motion exercises are crucial. Applying ice and possibly anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Subacute Phase (2-6 Weeks): As you progress into the subacute phase, you may begin physical therapy or rehabilitation exercises. The focus here is on gradually restoring strength and flexibility while avoiding overloading the tendon.
  • Recovery Phase (6 Weeks and Beyond): Full recovery from tricep tendonitis often takes several weeks to months. It’s essential to continue with rehabilitation exercises and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations. Returning to full activity too soon can risk re-injury.

If you’re concerned about the progress of your tricep tendonitis or if symptoms persist or worsen, don’t hesitate to consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide a more accurate estimate of your specific healing time and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan to ensure a successful recovery.


In conclusion, tricep tendonitis can be a painful and limiting condition, but it is manageable with the right treatment and care. Whether you choose rest, physical therapy, or medical interventions, the goal is to reduce inflammation, strengthen the tendon, and regain pain-free movement.

It’s essential to be patient during the healing process and follow the guidance of your healthcare provider or physical therapist. Don’t rush your return to full activity, and listen to your body.

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