Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tommy John Surgery

Tommy John Surgery is technically called ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR), but many in the sports world refer to it as Tommy John Surgery, named after a pitcher that played for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  In 1974, Tommy John became the first athlete ever  to have the surgery; the surgery is known as “one of the major advancements in sports medicine in the last quarter century.”20

The elbow consists of three bones; the humerus (the upper arm bone), the ulna (the larger bone in the forearm, on the opposite side of the thumb), and the radius (the smaller bone of the forearm on the same side of the thumb).  There are several ligaments that help connect these bones together, but the most important ones are the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) which is the ligament on the outside of your elbow and the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) which is on  the side of the elbow that is next to the body.  These two ligaments are the main source of stability for the elbow keeping “it tightly in place as it slides through the groove at the end of the humerus.”21  

The UCL becomes injured as a result of repetitive throwing motions that can lead to the ligament becoming stretched and frayed.  Over time the repetitive motion can cause little tears to begin to happen which can eventually lead to a complete rupture of the ligament.  When the ligament is ruptured the athlete will feel a pop and immediate pain. Other symptoms that the athlete may experience are swelling, instability and possible numbness and tingling in the arm.22

Notable Athletes
Tommy John Surgery is generally known as an injury that occurs with baseball players, primarily pitchers.  Baseball is a year around sport that many athletes begin to play as young children.  So it makes sense that years and years and thousands of throws over a lifetime can lead to an overuse of the UCL and eventually a tear.  Hundreds of players have had the surgery, but one of the most notable ones is the one of Stephen Strasburg.  Strasburg went number 1 overall to the Washington Nationals in 2009 and made his major league debut in 2010.  After getting off to a great start, he found that he tore his UCL and had to have surgery and sit out the rest of the season.  In the 2011 season Strasburg made a few starts in the minor and major leagues, but in the 2012 season, his first full season back, he became a National League all star.23  


20Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction (Tommy John Surgery). (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from

21Houston Methodist. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from

22Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injury. (2013). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from

23Stephen Strasburg Stats, Fantasy & News. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from

No comments:

Post a Comment