Tommy John Surgery
June 21, 2022
It is Baseball Season and we have all been hearing about “Tommy John” issues. Throwing athletes such as baseball players and more specifically pitchers often injure or tear a ligament in their elbow called their ulnar collateral ligament. This ligament is located on the inside of your elbow, and it helps to secure your elbow joint. The repair of this ligament gets its name from a baseball player who was a baseball pitcher and was the first person to successfully return to sport following repair in 1974.
Causes of injury could be due to improper throwing mechanics, a fall into your arm, weight bearing activities such as gymnastics, repetitive throwing without adequate rest breaks or throwing at high speeds. Common symptoms of a UCL tear or injury are feeling a pop in your elbow, pain on the inside of your elbow, increased difficulty with throwing motion and decreased range of motion of your elbow. Diagnosis often requires a physician visit and in some cases imaging.
Depending on the severity of injury non-operative options include physical therapy, rest and activity modification. Full thickness tears may require surgical repair. Following surgical repair, you are often placed in a brace to limit how much you can move your elbow and depending on your doctors’ recommendations you may begin physical therapy right away or wait a few weeks to allow healing and recovery. Most often patients attend physical therapy to improve their elbow motion and strength before they are cleared to return to their sport or job.
You can help to prevent injury by performing proper warm up and cool downs, avoiding throwing until your body has fully rested and recovered from your previous throwing activity, focusing on your mechanics and improving any muscle imbalances.