Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury Treatment

UCL is a strong band of tissues that hold ulna and humerus bone together in the elbow joint. Any injury to the ligament can make elbow joint unstable. It is one of the main stabilizing ligaments in the elbow joint that is involved especially with overhead activities such as throwing and pitching. Injury to this ligament most commonly occurs in sports or other activities like:

  • Tennis

  • Throwing

  • Pitching sports

  • Fencing

  • Painting

Causes of UCL injury

UCL can be torn due to multiple reasons like:

  • Single traumatic episode

  • Repetitive injury

  • Broken elbow

  • Post-dislocation injuries

  • Repetitive overheard activities like throwing

  • Stress to the elbow during a fall

Symptoms of UCL injury

The most common symptom of a torn ulnar collateral ligament elbow injury is:

  • Pain and tenderness on the medial or inner side of the arm, from the elbow to the wrist

  • Popping sound while doing activities like throwing

  • Inflammation of the joint

  • Loss of elbow range of motion

  • Ecchymosis may be observed over the medial side of elbow

  • Inability to perform strenuous activities

  • Numbness and tingling sensation to the ring finger and little finger

  • Pain may radiate to the inner forearm, hand or wrist

Treatment of UCL injury

Treatment typically depends upon the severity of injury and may include rest, activity restriction, medications like NSAIDs, splints or braces, physical therapy or pulsed ultrasound. But in cases where conservative treatment options fail to provide relief to the patient, UCL reconstruction surgery or Tommy John surgery is required.The surgery involves replacing the torn ligament with a tendon from elsewhere in the body or from the cadaver.

After the surgery, patient is advised for a regular follow-up and rehabilitation program for better and quicker recovery.