Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Reconstruction
The elbow requires a set of ligaments to support and stabilize the joint, attaching the different bones together. One of the main ligaments is the ulnar collateral ligament, or medial collateral ligament, which connects the humerus and ulna bones on the inside of the elbow. When this ligament is torn, it can impact the strength and stability of the elbow. Our orthopedic surgeons at DOCS Health have extensive experience performing ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, or Tommy John surgery, at our clinic in Los Angeles.
Causes and Symptoms of a UCL Tear
The UCL is crucial to supporting the elbow when it extends. This includes throwing motions or bracing the elbow when falling on an outstretched arm. UCL tears usually occur as a sports injury. A sudden tear can occur when the elbow is fractured or dislocated. More commonly, UCL tears occur over time from forceful throwing motions. Baseball players are susceptible to UCL partial or complete tears from repetitive use. Symptoms can include:
- Pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow
- Difficulty throwing or catching
- Popping or cracking when moving the elbow
- Tingling sensation or numbness on the inside of elbow, arm and in hand
- Instability in the joint
Complete UCL tears from an elbow dislocation or fracture may be repaired using internal bracing or other methods. For repetitive UCL tear injuries, reconstruction is usually recommended using Tommy John surgery.
What Is Tommy John Surgery?
Tommy John was a professional baseball player who had a successful comeback after a UCL tear injury and reconstruction surgery. The surgery is named after him and is commonly used for athletes who have repetitive use injuries to their UCL. The surgery uses a tendon harvested from another area on the body to reconstruct the UCL ligament in the elbow, restoring full function.
If you have sustained a UCL injury from repetitive use, ulnar collateral reconstruction surgery may be the right treatment for recovery. Contact our orthopedic sports medicine specialists at DOCS Health in Los Angeles to schedule a consultation.