One of the common questions I receive from patients in my office centers around delaying surgery in order to finish a sports season or wait until they have a break at work or school. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I discuss this concept with a serious injury often suffered by baseball pitchers – Tommy John surgery for a UCL injury (Tommy John injury) of the elbow.
I have a complete tear of the UCL. It occurred two years ago. Originally, I did not plan on getting surgery because I did not think I would play baseball any longer. I have re-evaluated that decision and plan on getting surgery (if affordable).
Is there more damage I can do to the elbow if I play (or wait) any longer before getting the surgery? Would it make the surgery more difficult or less likely to be successful?
Most of us – or at least those of us who don’t pitch in baseball or play overhead sports – can do well without undergoing Tommy John surgery for an ulnar collateral ligament, also called a UCL injury or Tommy John injury. Baseball pitchers have historically not done well with non-surgical treatment for these injuries. Return to sports rates have been unpredictable for athletes with complete tears of the ligament.
While it is difficult to know if a pitcher would do more harm to his elbow, the bigger problem is that it could be difficult to pitch as well as he wants. He might struggle with the location and velocity of his pitches. He could try a course of physical therapy to regain range of motion and strength of his arm and try to return to see how he pitches, and he could undergo UCL reconstruction if the process didn’t get him back to the level of pitching he desires.
I want to help you! Please take a few seconds to share the biggest challenge or struggle you’re facing with your injury! Click here!
Recommended Products and Resources
Click here to go to Dr. David Geier’s Amazon Influencer store!
Due to a large number of questions I have received over the years asking about products for health, injuries, performance, and other areas of sports, exercise, work and life, I have created an Amazon Influencer page. While this information and these products are not intended to treat any specific injury or illness you have, they are products I use personally, have used or have tried, or I have recommended to others. THE SITE MAY OFFER HEALTH, FITNESS, NUTRITIONAL AND OTHER SUCH INFORMATION, BUT SUCH INFORMATION IS DESIGNED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE CONTENT DOES NOT AND IS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY MEDICAL ADVICE AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE. YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR, NOR DOES IT REPLACE, PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. THE SITE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ACTIONS OR INACTION ON A USER’S PART BASED ON THE INFORMATION THAT IS PRESENTED ON THE SITE. Please note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.