Signs of a Torn Triceps

An upper arm muscle tear is very painful. The specific symptoms felt with a pulled biceps or triceps depends upon the severity of the strain.

Typical symptoms of a strained triceps

  • sudden, sharp pain in the upper arm (front – biceps; back – triceps) during exercise usually felt during resistance activities (like lifting weights in a curling motion) and potentially associated by a ‘protruding’ feeling
  • a spasm or stiffness in the affected muscle
  • swelling and tenderness
  • bruising in the affected arm muscle, elbow, or forearm (pinpoints blood vessels have been broken)
  • overall weakness in the upper arm
  • gap or inconsistency in the affected muscle (if the tear is severe or you ruptured the muscle). Note that biceps and triceps can also detach. A tear will protrude a ball of muscle fiber since there is no outside force to keep the muscle elongated

Injuries can be caused from a one-time event (like too much weight at one time) or gradually over time (like excessive weight, overtraining, not enough warm up, not enough recovery time, or poor technique).

There are numerous potential causes of a pulled biceps or triceps muscle, but what generally precipitates them are

  • attempting to lift too heavy weight
  • being overtired or not warming up prior to resistance or strength training activity
  • muscle inflexibility
  • repetitive motion stress (like throwing, striking, or hitting a ball)
  • poor strength
  • overstretching the muscle (pushing the muscles past their tension threshold)
  • sudden stress on the lower arm while contracting the upper arm

Men over the age of 35 are more prone for biceps and triceps strains than any other demography. Fatigue and improper warm-up increases the likelihood of pulling a muscle.

How do you determine the severity of a pulled or strained biceps or triceps muscle?

  • Ÿ  Grade 1

Tightness in the front of the upper arm (biceps) or back of the upper arm (triceps). Ability to flex and extend you arm at the elbow, but aware of discomfort. Minimal swelling. Contracting the affected muscle specially against resistance, will not cause too much pain

  • Ÿ  Grade 2

You have experienced partial tearing of the muscle fibers. You may experience twinges of pain during activity. Visible swelling and pressure will increase pain. Bruising, redness, and warmth on the upper arm. Flexing and elbow-extension is jeopardized. Pain when contracting the muscle specially against resistance

  • Ÿ  Grade 3

There is a full rupture in some muscle fibers in the biceps or triceps. You may feel severe pain, specially when contracting the muscle with or without resistance. Visible and immediate swelling. Contraction will perpetuate pain and potential bulging/spasm of the muscle. Range-of-motion (ROM) and overall mobility will be limited or suspended

Chronic injury

Not categorized as a grade 1, 2 or 3, a chronic injury is distinguishable because it is perpetual. When you undergo multiple arm muscle pulls over several months to several years, it indicates there is some internal damage or weakness, that the body has not been able to recuperate. Taking the time to recover properly will fructify later on. Chronic injuries primarily means scar tissue damage, which can cause difficulties later in life as the body naturally becomes weaker.

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