The ulnar collateral ligament is an important ligament for elbow stabilization and function. Overuse and repetitive throwing motions can cause tears in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Reconstruction surgery is an option to repair the damaged UCL and restore function for overhead throwing athletes. Dr. Steven Struhl is a top sports medicine and orthopedic surgeon who offers UCL reconstruction surgery at his clinics in NYC and Westchester.
Severe UCL tears are commonly sustained by baseball pitchers and overhead throwing athletes. It is unlikely that a severe UCL tear will occur from a traumatic injury. Repetitive stress on the UCL can lead to tears, causing pain and instability in the elbow. Athletes with this condition may no longer be able to perform at the level needed for their profession. The first athlete to undergo UCL reconstruction surgery successfully was Tommy John, a professional baseball pitcher. The surgery to repair the UCL is often called Tommy John surgery as a result.
Benefits of Tommy John Surgery
For athletes that have UCL damage from years of repetitive bending and throwing motion of the elbow, Tommy John surgery can restore stability and reduce pain in the elbow. This procedure uses a tendon harvested from another area on the body or a donor to replace or repair the UCL. The surgery is outpatient, and the patient can usually return home after the procedure. However, rehabilitation is extensive, usually starting physical therapy immediately. Professional athletes may need several months of rehabilitation before they are able to bend and control their elbow at a high level.
If you have suffered a severe UCL tear that is impacting your performance, ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction surgery may be an option. Dr. Steven Struhl has decades of experience as a highly respected orthopedic surgeon, completing complex procedures like Tommy John surgery. Contact our practice in NYC or Westchester to schedule a consultation.