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Tommy John Surgery (UCL reconstruction)

Tommy John Surgery (UCL reconstruction)

Ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL, surgery is performed to repair a torn ligament in the elbow. The tear typically occurs because of strong, repetitive, overhead throwing motions, which is why injuries to the UCL are associated primarily with baseball pitchers. In fact, UCL surgery is often referred to as “Tommy John surgery,” named for the professional baseball pitcher it was first performed on.

If you’re experiencing above average pain in your elbow, instability of the joint and/or compromised range of motion, make an appointment with an orthopedic physician to determine the next course of action.

If surgery is required to repair a torn UCL, it will most likely have to be replaced with a substitute tendon, or graft, either from the patient’s body (autograft) or a cadaver (allograft). Autografts are much more common with tendons from the toe, hamstring or forearm. First the substitute tendon is harvested. Afterward, the damaged ligament is removed and the autograft tendon is looped through holes drilled in the bones of the elbow, reattaching the upper and lower parts of the arm.

Rehabilitation after UCL surgery can be lengthy. At first, the arm is completely immobilized for one to two weeks, and then switches to a hinged brace. After arm strengthening exercises and physical therapy, competitive throwing may be achieved roughly six to nine months after surgery, with full, pre-surgery throwing capabilities at 12-18 months. As always, it’s extremely important to discuss the recovery plan in detail with your doctor.

Dr. Amy Borrow specializes in Tommy John Surgery. Please contact us at (678) 207- 4500 to find out how our team can assist you and your loved ones. Or contact us online! Request an Appointment with an OrthoTLC Physician Today!
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