Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction

///Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction

Dr. Frank Jobe

Tommy John

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is the primary restraint to stress across the inside of the elbow.  Prior to the surgery pioneered by Dr. Frank Jobe (pictured above), an injury to the UCL was essentially career-ending for overhead athletes.  The surgical techniques of UCL reconstruction have continuously evolved to improve the prognosis for the highly competitive athlete with an UCL injury. Dr. Jobe performed the first ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction of the elbow in 1974 on Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John.

UCL Injury Symptoms

  • Pain or a “pop”on the inside (medial side) of the elbow
  • Swelling or “tightness” on the inside of the elbow
  • Numbness/tingling in the ring and small finger with throwing
  • Loss of velocity or control

UCL Injury Treatment

Nonoperative

  • Rest – stop any throwing activities to allow the ligament to heal
  • Ice – decrease the inflammation surrounding the ligament
  • Bracing – provide stability to the elbow and prevent any unnecessary strain on the ligament
  • Injections – platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) may augment the healing potential for partial tears
  • Therapy – designed to strengthen the muscles surrounding the elbow and improve shoulder and elbow range of motion and increase core and leg strength
  • Pitching Mechanics – improving pitching mechanics can help avoid injuries in the future

Are you a candidate for an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction?

Dr. Meijer specializes in the treatment of ulnar collateral ligament injuries.

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Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction

An incision is made on the inside of the elbow to expose the ulnar collateral ligament. A graft of tissue is take from the forearm or leg to create a new ligament. The old ligament is left in place with the new ligament laid over the top of it in a figure-of-eight fashion. The new ligament is weaved through bone tunnels in the elbow. The surgery is an outpatient procedure and lasts 1-2 hours.

After Tommy John Surgery

  • You will have a splint for 5-7 days
  • Sutures will removed after 10-14 days
  • Therapy will start once the splint is removed
  • Throwing program will begin at 4 months
  • Return to play is typically 12-18 months

STAY IN THE GAME FOR LIFE

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