Lateral Ulna Collateral Ligament Reconstruction

Lateral Ulna Collateral Ligament Reconstruction

Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction is a surgical procedure used to restore an ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow. This ligament is located on the inner side of the elbow, and it helps you keep your elbow secure. If you’re an athlete who plays throwing sports like baseball, you may have a lateral ulnar collateral ligament tear that needs surgical repair.

This procedure is sometimes referred to as the Tommy John surgery. Tommy was a baseball pitcher who had the procedure performed on his arm in 1974, and he was able to return to active sports. If you’re having pain or tenderness in your elbow, visit OrthoBethesda in Bethesda, MD, for diagnosis and treatment.


What Is Lateral Collateral Ligament Surgery?

This procedure repairs a lateral collateral ligament elbow injury through a tendon replacement. During the surgery, the elbow is stabilized by harvesting a tendon from another part of your body or from someone else. Then, the tendon is attached to the arm to serve as the new UCL.

What Are the Causes of Lateral Collateral Ligament Tear?

A lateral collateral ligament injury may occur due to repetitive stress damage within the elbow that makes it unstable. Such injuries occur frequently among athletes who play baseball and volleyball. While playing these sports, the arms need to be used in an overhead position.

The UCL links the inner part of your upper arm to the inside of your forearm. The ligament stabilizes your arm when move it for throwing a ball. A UCL injury can cause pain and stiffness in the arm, but it can get worse. With repetitive stress or trauma, the ligament may be stretched or torn. Surgery needs to be performed if physical therapy doesn’t relieve your pain or if your elbow is unstable after you return to your sport or normal daily activities.

What Are the Signs of a Lateral Collateral Ligament Tear?

When you have a UCL injury, you may experience:

  • Poor performance while pitching during a baseball game
  • Slower warmup for a sport
  • Pain while you use your arm to throw or pitch a ball or swing a racquet
  • Instability in your elbow joint
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Soreness, swelling or tightness inside your elbow

How Do You Diagnose a Lateral Collateral Ligament Tear?

When you come to our clinic in Bethesda, MD, our team of orthopedic surgeons and therapists will conduct an evaluation. We’ll also ask you about your medical history and your activities (work and sports). We’ll gently feel the area around your elbow to find the specific spots that are tender and test your range of motion.

To obtain an accurate diagnosis, we’ll run a series of tests to see the position and state of the bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles at your joint. Using X-ray, ultrasound and MRI scans, we’ll be able to see if there’s any damage to your lateral ulnar collateral ligament.

What Treatment Do I Need for a Lateral Collateral Ligament Tear?

Ulnar collateral ligament surgery is usually an outpatient procedure. It’s performed with general anesthesia, and it could last for up to one and a half hours. A tendon from another part of your body or a donor is used to replace the damaged ligament. The new tendon is attached to the bones of the upper and lower arm.

Further Reading

Everything To Know About Tommy John Surgery

Top Exercises to Avoid If You Have Tennis Elbow


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Learn More About Lateral Collateral Ligament Treatment at OrthoBethesda

If you’re feeling pain in your arm after a sports injury, contact us at OrthoBethesda for one of our orthopedic doctors to examine your arm. You can also call us now at (301) 530-1010 to book an appointment for lateral collateral ligament reconstructive surgery.