A UCL injury, or an ulnar collateral ligament injury, is often nicknamed a Tommy John injury after the famous baseball pitcher Tommy John. He was the first major athlete to undergo surgery for this injury. His name has now become synonymous with the surgery.
The ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow is one of the major stabilizers of the elbow. It is located on the inside of the elbow running between the humerus (arm bone) and the ulna (one of the forearm bones). It helps to stabilize the elbow against valgus stress.
Mechanism of injury
Valgus stress on the elbow occurs when the hand of the throwing arm is pulled away from the body, putting stress on the inside of the elbow. Pitchers and other throwing athletes experience valgus stress on their elbows in the late cocking phase of throwing. This is the position where the shoulder is maximally externally rotated just before the arm comes forward to start to throw the ball.
There’s a tremendous amount of valgus force on the ulnar collateral ligament with every pitch or throw. Over time, the ligament experiences a tremendous amount of stress.
This is an injury most commonly experienced by pitchers, but it can be seen in many throwing and overhead athletes, such as football quarterbacks, baseball players at other positions, tennis players, and others.
Signs and symptoms of a UCL injury of the elbow
Acute events, meaning that there is one particular throw that ruptures the ligament, can occur, but this is usually not the case. This is typically an injury that develops over time.
A pitcher will usually complain of pain on the inside of the elbow that worsens over the course of the game. It typically gets worse as the season goes on, and the pain takes longer to go away after each game. He often complains of not having the same velocity or “zip” on their pitches or throws. He might also notice that he can’t locate their pitches or throws as well as he used to be able to.
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.