Triceps tendon reflex

The triceps tendon reflex can be elicited when the triceps tendon is hit with a reflex hammer, thus inducing a contraction of the triceps brachii muscles. The distal insertion of the triceps is on the olecranon process of the ulna bone.

Test procedure:
With the patient lying supine or sat on the examining table, the practitioner supports the patient’s flexed arm from under the elbow, and places his/her thumb over the patients triceps tendon just above the olecranon process. The practitioner strikes the triceps tendon or the distal part of the muscle belly. For a very sensitive patient, an alternative method is for the practitioner to place his thumb over the tendon and strike indirectly. Take care not to strike the sensitive and sometimes exposed ulnar nerve.

Test findings (Positive & Negative results):
A positive finding is characterised by the smooth, rapid contraction of the triceps after it’s tendon has been struck followed by a return to the normal resting tone of that muscle.
When performing this reflex, look out for signs of upper or lower motor neurone lesions.

The triceps reflex is used to examine the integrity of the C7 reflex arc supplied via the radial nerve.
A reduced or absent triceps reflex may be indicative of a lower motor neurone lesion affecting the C7 nerve root.