ULNAR COLLATERAL LIGAMENT RECONSTRUCTION (TOMMY JOHN SURGERY)
The ulnar collateral ligament stabilizes the inside of the elbow through its various flexing and extending motions. This ligament can be ruptured by sudden traumatic accidents, but more commonly, deterioration over time results from stresses related to specific, repetitive motions. For this reason, this injury is common among baseball pitchers, javelin throwers, and athletes who play volleyball, racquet sports and other activities requiring overhead throwing movements. In some cases, non-surgical treatments involving rest, anti-inflammatories, and strengthening exercises can provide relief. However, in many cases, particularly in competitive athletes whose damage worsens over time, surgery may be necessary to restore stability to the elbow and improve function. This surgery, known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction or Tommy John Surgery after the LA Dodgers pitcher who first underwent the procedure in 1974 and returned to competitive play, surgically replaces the ligament with a tendon from elsewhere in the body.
Questions For Your Doctor
1. What guidelines should I follow prior to my procedure? Will I need other tests or evaluations before the procedure?
2. Which type of technique will be performed, and from where will my new UCL be harvested?
3. What will happen if I don’t undergo the procedure now?
4. How long will the procedure last and will I be under anesthesia?
5. Will I have dressings, bandages, or stitches after surgery? When should they be removed?
6. Will I be given medication after surgery? What tips do you have for me to ease discomfort?
7. How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
8. Are there special instructions for eating, sleeping, or bathing?
9. When can I return to work, exercise, and resume normal activity?
10. Will I need physical therapy?