an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament (ucl) can cause you a lot of discomfort and pain. This injury occurs in the elbow and can occur after throwing too hard or swinging the arm at an awkward angle.
This injury is common in athletes and people who enjoy manual hobbies such as gardening. Luckily, there are ways to fix this tear so you can get on with your life.
Tommy John surgery is the best corrective approach to heal a ucl tear. Read on to learn more about how this surgery can help you!
what is tommy john surgery?
Tommy John’s surgery was named after a famous Major League Baseball pitcher. after his tear at ucl, he couldn’t pitch at the same pace, but once his ucl was repaired, he was able to play again!
You are probably still wondering what tommy john surgery is. this procedure treats a ucl tear by reconstructing it with a tendon graft.
A tendon graft comes from another part of your body. in this case, the surgeon will retrieve the hamstring graft because it is similar to ucl tissue.
The surgeon will then remove the damaged tissue and replace it with the tendon graft. once the graft is positioned correctly, the surgeon will secure it with screws, anchors, and sutures.
who can perform tommy john surgery?
Tommy John surgery is a very specific type of surgery. An orthopedic surgeon who specializes in elbows can usually perform this surgery. When choosing the right surgeon, make sure they have experience with UCL tears and other sports injuries.
Doing thorough research will increase your chances of choosing a surgeon you trust. Ultimately, choosing the best surgeon will improve your outcome.
why was tommy john surgery invented?
as stated above, a ucl tear can cause pain and discomfort. The main reason Tommy John surgery was invented was to relieve pain and restore range of motion to the elbow.
This surgery has a high success rate among athletes who want to continue practicing their sport. however, anyone can have a ucl tear and can benefit from this surgery.
Are ucl tears common?
The ucl is a triangular shaped tissue that sits inside the elbow and supports the joint. the reason ucl tears occur is from overuse.
Athletes are more susceptible to this type of sports injury, which can lead to destabilization of the elbow. If not treated right away, this injury can weaken the muscles in your arm and lead to lifelong complications.
This is why it is important to treat athletes’ injuries as soon as possible. however, surgery may not be the first option.
Usually, a doctor will recommend physical therapy along with rest. however, if this proves futile, tommy john surgery is the next step.
signs of a ucl tear
It is essential to know the warning signs of a ucl tear. Typically, a ucl tear will present with these signs:
- bruises around the elbow area
- reduced or no mobility in the arm
- trouble launching
- pain around the elbow and arm area
- mild to severe swelling
- hand grip loss
- Tingling in the hand
- numbness around the injured area
- once you arrive at the medical building, you will be placed in the admitting room.
- The surgeon will review the procedure in detail and give you post-operative instructions.
- A nurse will ask you to sign consent forms.
- The staff will prepare you for surgery by taking your vital signs and possibly a urine sample.
- A nurse will start an IV to prepare for anesthesia.
- Next, you will be taken to the operating room and put under anesthesia to begin the surgery.
- temporary weakness and feeling of numbness
- re-injury that will require another surgery
- pain and discomfort when throwing
- inferior mobility that prevents you from fully extending the elbow
if you have four or more of these symptoms, you most likely have a ucl injury. Always consult a medical professional to confirm your injury.
ucl tear levels
there are different levels of ucl tears, which can pose a serious threat to your mobility. With a first-degree injury, the ligament is still intact but causes a lot of pain.
A second degree injury will also cause a lot of pain because of how much the ligament is stretched. a third degree injury is the most serious and will likely require corrective surgery. In a third degree injury, the ligament is completely torn and unable to function.
The first two ucl lesions could be repaired without surgery. however, you should discuss your options with an orthopedic surgeon.
cost of tommy john surgery
Costs for any reconstructive surgery depend on the severity of your injury, the surgeon, and your insurance plan. however, there are rough estimates of the cost of tommy john surgery.
For starters, non-surgical treatments can range from $500 to $5,000 with insurance. Unfortunately, the cost of non-surgical treatments increases without insurance. On average, these treatments can range from $10,000 to $26,000 or more.
the cost of tommy john surgery generally ranges from $15,000 to $50,000. however, an exact number cannot be given without speaking with your health insurance provider. the overall price may be significantly lower, but it all depends on your health coverage.
preparing for tommy john surgery
With most surgeries, there are steps you need to take beforehand. During your consultation, your doctor will give you instructions to follow before diving.
Blood clots may occur after surgery and taking other medications may increase this risk. it is recommended that you stop taking any medication 24 hours prior to surgery.
You should also have a recovery plan and someone to help you with your day-to-day. Cooking, driving, or cleaning after surgery is not recommended, so having someone help you can be a lot of stress reliever.
Lastly, you must take at least three weeks off work or your practice schedule!
what to expect the day of your surgery
On the day of your surgery, there are many precautions and steps that need to be taken prior to surgery. Sometimes patients can be nervous before a surgical procedure, so knowing what to look out for may help.
Here are the typical steps nurses and doctors take before your procedure:
After surgery, you will be groggy from the anesthesia. however, if the surgery is completed successfully, you can leave the same day!
recovery from tommy john surgery
Recovering from Tommy John surgery can be a long process. however, with proper aftercare, you may have some movement in two to five months and a full recovery in about six to nine months.
Your surgeon will give you clear instructions for your recovery and you must follow them closely! To begin with, it is recommended to wear an elbow brace for at least a month.
Physical therapy is also recommended for your recovery process and overall results. Lastly, your surgeon will also advise you not to engage in any physical activity outside of your physical therapy!
pain management after surgery
After your surgery, you will have some pain. however, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation.
You should also have your elbow in an elevated position. during your physical therapy is when you will experience the most pain. however, your therapist will work with you to optimize mobility while keeping you comfortable.
If you feel a significant level of pain at any time during your therapy, notify your physical therapist immediately. this could be a sign of inflammation and should be treated carefully to reduce further damage.
risks involved in tommy john surgery
like any other surgery, tommy john surgery also has some risk factors and complications. for example, bleeding and blood clots can occur.
Infection could also occur after surgery which could lead to serious complications. It is important to note that these complications are present in all surgeries.
However, by choosing the right surgeon and closely following postoperative instructions, they can be minimized. More specifically, the complications directly associated with Tommy John surgery are:
As stated above, these complications can be avoided by following your surgeon’s instructions and engaging in physical therapy. if you have a history of blood clots, tell your surgeon so he or she can administer the appropriate medications.
how to prevent ucl injuries
There are ways to prevent ucl injuries and build muscle all over. the best way to start is by strengthening your core and improving your shoulder range of motion.
You should have a daily routine that consists of stretching and strengthening the muscle. read on for more information.
The first exercise to stretch the ucl is to bend the wrist forward and then backward. this may induce some pain, but do your best to straighten your arm as far as it will go.
This exercise can be done in two sets of 15. The following exercise begins by bending the injured elbow 90 degrees while keeping the elbow to the side.
Slowly turn your hand palm up and hold for six seconds. do this exercise 20 times in groups of two.
strengthening is also an essential part of injury prevention. The first exercise you can do to strengthen the area is wrist flexion. start by holding about 2 to 5 pounds of weight.
With your palms facing up, begin to curl your wrist up. move the weight back to the original position. repeat these steps in sets of 2 for 15 times.
The second exercise is a mid-trap. Start by lying on your stomach and placing a pillow under your chest area. have your arms extended to your sides and your elbows straight.
starts to raise his arms towards the ceiling. As she raises her arms, bring your shoulder blades together. do this exercise slowly and stop if you feel too much discomfort.
This exercise can be done in three sets of 15. The last exercise is called flexion and extension. Start by holding 2-5 pounds of weight and bend your elbow until your hand reaches your shoulder.
Slowly return to the original position until your arm is straight. this exercise should be done in 2 sets of 15.
different sports injuries
Unfortunately, there are many athlete injuries that can occur on and off the field. ACL tears are common among sports injuries; this type of injury tears the anterior cruciate ligament.
This ligament connects the femur to the tibia. this injury is common in soccer, football, and skiing. A ucl and acl tear can have similar symptoms, causes, and treatments.
however, acl tears can be more dangerous than ucl tears. Another serious injury is a fractured vertebra. this type of injury can cause severe damage to an athlete.
In fact, this injury can cause temporary or permanent paralysis. it is common in soccer and other aggressive sports.
tommy john surgery success rate
The success rate for baseball players is significantly high when tommy john surgery is performed. In fact, after Tommy John surgery, about 83% of players are able to return to Major League Baseball.
It is important to mention that a full recovery can still affect your performance as a caster. there is also the possibility of re-injury, which can lead to other surgeries. however, advances in this surgery continue each year.
hope is waiting for you
After a successful tommy john surgery, you can expect full mobility and no discomfort. so if you suspect you might have a ucl tear, talk to a professional right away.
The faster you receive treatment, the better the results. Don’t forget to contact us and schedule a consultation today!