UCL Tear/Tommy John Injury

Has it become difficult to throw a ball or hold a racket? Our experts will diagnose and fix your elbow injury. You may know ulnar collateral injury as a "Tommy John" injury. It's commonly called that after the baseball player who first had the surgery used to repair an UCL tear. Our orthopedic experts help you weigh the pros and cons of the full range of treatment options.

In the elbow joint, the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) holds the lower arm and upper arm bones together. A UCL injury occurs from a sport that involves throwing or racket holding. An initial symptom is pain on the inside of your arm, from elbow to wrist. This can become a chronic condition, if it's not treated promptly. Rest, rehabilitation and/or surgery help relieve pain.

More About UCL Tears/Tommy John Injury

You may have damage to the primary elbow ligament, called the ulnar collateral ligament, if you have these symptoms:

  • Arm pain with overhead motions (such as throwing)
  • Pain or tenderness on the inside of your elbow
  • Minor swelling on along the inside of your arm extending from the elbow
  • Numbness or tingling in your arm or elbow

This type of elbow injury is commonly associated with baseball athletes. It's often referred to by the nickname to its treatment, as a Tommy John injury. The name came after the first such surgery was performed on a major league baseball player named Tommy John. The name stuck,since most Tommy John surgeries to fix elbows torn in sports-related injuries are being performed on teenagers, especially baseball pitchers, and the numbers are rising every year, a new study reports.

Tommy John surgery fixes a torn ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL. The UCL is located on the inside of the elbow and connects the bone of the upper arm to a bone in the forearm.

Treatment for Ulnar Collateral Ligament Tears

If you are facing treatment for a tear in your ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in your elbow, you may be an athlete who throws, such as a baseball pitcher. For professional or competitive athletes, surgical repair is often desired. For recreational players and everyone else with UCL injuries, there are more conservative options to consider first. Many UCL tears heal with medicine, physical therapy and rest. If the problem persists, there are several surgical options that may help.

Our award-winning team includes every orthopedic specialist, surgeon and everyone in between that you could need for your best care.