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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

Volume 3, Issue 8, 2015, 5p

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1177/2325967115601021

Copyright © The Author(s) 2015

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work as published without adaptation or alteration, without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (


BACKGROUND: Complete triceps tendon ruptures are relatively rare in the general population but slightly more prevalent in professional football. One prior study found 11 complete ruptures over a 6-season period.

HYPOTHESIS: Triceps ruptures occur more commonly in football linemen due to forced elbow flexion during an eccentric contraction and may occur more commonly with the increasing size and speed of professional players. Surgical repair allows full return to sports, but with a lengthy recovery time.

STUDY DESIGN: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

METHODS: A search of the National Football League Injury Surveillance System (NFLISS) found a total of 37 triceps tendon ruptures requiring surgical repair from the years 2000 to 2009. Data were obtained for setting of injury, player position, activity causing injury, play type, time of game when injury occurred, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and number of days lost from football.

RESULTS: There were 37 players requiring surgical repair for triceps tendon ruptures over the 10-season period. The average height, weight, and BMI of the players were 75 inches, 292 pounds, and 36.5 kg/m(2), respectively. The majority of players were linemen (86%): 16 defensive, 15 offensive, and 1 tight end. The injury took place while blocking or being blocked in 29 players (78%) and while tackling or being tackled in 5 players (14%). Players missed an average of 165 days (range, 49-318 days) from football as a result of their injury and surgery.

CONCLUSION: Triceps tendon tears requiring surgical repair are more common in professional football players than in the general population and are occurring more commonly than previously reported. Surgical repair allows return to play.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Our study identifies the rate of triceps tendon tears requiring repair in the NFL according to position, identifying which players may be most at risk for this injury.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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