Triceps Tendon Ruptures in Professional Football Players

Scott D. Mair, William M. Isbell, Thomas J. Gill, Theodore F. Schlegel, Richard J. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Background: Distal rupture of the triceps tendon is a rare injury, and treatment guidelines are not well established. Hypothesis: Football players with triceps tendon ruptures will be able to return to their sport with minimal functional deficits. Study Design: Uncontrolled retrospective review. Methods: Twenty-one partial and complete ruptures of the triceps tendon were identified in 19 National Football League players over a period of 6 years. Team physicians retrospectively reviewed training room, clinical, and operative notes for each of these players. Results: Most of the injured players were linemen. The most common mechanism of injury was an eccentric load to a contracting triceps. Seven players had prodromal symptoms prior to injury, and 5 had received a cortisone injection. Eleven elbows with complete tears underwent surgical repair. Of 10 players with partial tears, 6 healed without surgery. One player suffered a subsequent complete tear requiring surgery, and 3 with residual pain and weakness underwent surgical repair following the season. Two surgical complications occurred, both requiring a second operation. All of the players but 1 returned to play at least one season of professional football after their injury. Conclusions: Partial triceps tendon ruptures can heal without functional deficit. Surgical repair for complete ruptures generally produces good functional results and allows return to play.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-434
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Elbow
  • Football
  • Rupture
  • Tendon
  • Triceps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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