UCL Reconstruction - Tommy John Elbow

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What is Tommy John Elbow Surgery?

A repetitive throwing motion places considerable stress on the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) in the elbow. UCL injuries occur most frequently among baseball players, especially pitchers, but other activities and athletic pursuits may also injure the UCL.

Named after a former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who successfully underwent the procedure in 1974, “Tommy John” surgery repairs a torn elbow ligament by grafting a tendon from elsewhere in the body. It’s a proven surgical solution to UCL injury. At Centric Health, board certified Orthopedic Surgeons surgeons perform Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction.

What does Tommy John Elbow Surgery treat?

Tommy John surgery is an outpatient procedure that effectively repairs UCL injuries and allows patients to reclaim an active lifestyle. Our team specializes in sports orthopaedics, including ligament reconstruction and arthroscopic procedures of the shoulder, elbow and knee.

Reasons for the Tommy John elbow surgery

UCL reconstruction surgery may be recommended to treat:

  • Overuse injuries
  • Acute injuries
  • Inner elbow pain
  • A sensation of elbow joint instability
  • Ulnar nerve or “funny bone” irritation that leads to tingling or numbness in the small and ring fingers
  • A decreased ability to throw a ball or another object

What to expect with Tommy John Elbow Surgery

During your visit, you will undergo a detailed assessment to provide the specialist with the information necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.

UCL reconstruction surgery takes about two hours under general anaesthesia. An overnight stay is not usually required. During the procedure, the surgeon will graft a harvested tendon from the forearm or hamstring into the elbow to replace the torn ligament, connecting the bone of the upper arm to a bone in the forearm.

Recovery after Tommy John Elbow Surgery

Afterwards, patients wear a splint for 7-10 days to immobilize the elbow. As the patient begins to heal, they should do gentle exercises and strengthening routines to regain full motion of the elbow joint. Most patients who undergo Tommy John surgery can expect to resume their athletic activities at the same, or even a higher, level of competition after rehabilitation.

Next steps: Book your Tommy John surgery consultation

If you’re ready to discuss your surgical needs with our board-certified surgeons, request a consultation today. During your consultation, your patient care advisor will discuss:

  • Your medical history
  • Pre- and post-operative care
  • Potential risks and complications

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