How is a UCL injury treated?
If a patient sustains a first or second-degree tear, Dr. Williams may recommend a conservative treatment option of RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation of the elbow. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen helps to mitigate pain and swelling. Other options may include splinting the elbow to help ensure rest and proper healing followed by physical therapy, which can strengthen the muscles around the ligament. Platelet rich plasma (blood spin procedure) injections can be of some value in treating partial UCL tears; usually multiple injections are indicated followed by a period of complete rest. In general, nonoperative treatment strategies are very unpredictable for UCL tears.
If a complete or near-complete UCL tear occurs, surgical repair is recommended. Once the UCL is repaired, complete recovery takes approximately 9-12 months. Ulnar collateral reconstruction, also known as Tommy John Surgery, utilizes a tendon from another area in of the patient’s replace the native injured UCL. This procedure is effective at returning high demand athletes to sports.