Origin: Long head: scapula, lateral head: posterior humerus, medial head: posterior humerus
Insertion: Olecranon process of ulna
Artery: Profunda brachii
Nerve: Radial nerve
Action: Extends forearm, caput longum adducts shoulder
Antagonist: Biceps brachii muscle
The Triceps brachii (Triceps; Triceps extensor cubiti) is situated on the back of the arm, extending the entire length of the dorsal surface of the humerus. It is of large size, and arises by three heads (long, lateral, and medial), hence its name.
The long head arises by a flattened tendon from the infraglenoid tuberosity of the scapula, being blended at its upper part with the capsule of the shoulder-joint; the muscular fibers pass downward between the two other heads of the muscle, and join with them in the tendon of insertion.
The lateral head arises from the posterior surface of the body of the humerus, between the insertion of the Teres minor and the upper part of the groove for the radial nerve, and from the lateral border of the humerus and the lateral intermuscular septum; the fibers from this origin converge toward the tendon of insertion.
The medial head arises from the posterior surface of the body of the humerus, below the groove for the radial nerve; it is narrow and pointed above, and extends from the insertion of the Teres major to within 2.5 cm. of the trochlea: it also arises from the medial border of the humerus and from the back of the whole length of the medial intermuscular septum. Some of the fibers are directed downward to the olecranon, while others converge to the tendon of insertion.
The tendon of the Triceps brachii begins about the middle of the muscle: it consists of two aponeurotic laminae, one of which is subcutaneous and covers the back of the lower half of the muscle; the other is more deeply seated in the substance of the muscle. After receiving the attachment of the muscular fibers, the two lamellae join together above the elbow, and are inserted, for the most part, into the posterior portion of the upper surface of the olecranon; a band of fibers is, however, continued downward, on the lateral side, over the Anconaeus, to blend with the deep fascia of the forearm.
The long head of the Triceps brachii descends between the Teres minor and Teres major, dividing the triangular space between these two muscles and the humerus into two smaller spaces, one triangular, the other quadrangular. The triangular space contains the scapular circumflex vessels; it is bounded by the Teres minor above, the Teres major below, and the scapular head of the Triceps laterally. The quadrangular space transmits the posterior humeral circumflex vessels and the axillary nerve; it is bounded by the Teres minor and capsule of the shoulder-joint above, the Teres major below, the long head of the Triceps brachii medially, and the humerus laterally.
Variations.—A fourth head from the inner part of the humerus; a slip between Triceps and Latissimus dorsi corresponding to the Dorso-epitrochlearis. The Subanconaeus is the name given to a few fibers which spring from the deep surface of the lower part of the Triceps brachii, and are inserted into the posterior ligament and synovial membrane of the elbow-joint.
Nerves.—The Triceps brachii is supplied by the seventh and eighth cervical nerves through the radial nerve.
Actions.—The Triceps brachii is the great extensor muscle of the forearm, and is the direct antagonist of the Biceps brachii and Brachialis. When the arm is extended, the long head of the muscle may assist the Teres major and Latissimus dorsi in drawing the humerus backward and in adducting it to the thorax. The long head supports the under part of the shoulder-joint. The Subanconaeus draws up the synovial membrane of the elbow-joint during extension of the forearm.