Elbows- UCL (Unilateral collateral ligament) tear
Sports: baseball, javelin, football
What: Tear in the UCL on the inside of the elbow
How: Normally occurs when the strain of one pitch/throw becomes too much for the ligament to take. This doesn't build up over time as other injuries do, but is an acute injury that happens all at once.
Treatment: Rehab is an option, but generally reconstructive surgery is needed. During the surgery, the UCL is removed and then replaced with a tendon from the wrist or a section of the hamstring.
Story from an athlete, Andrew Clauson
I began pitching at the age of nine, and for the most part have had no significant problems with either my elbow or shoulder. I was almost always sore after pitching, but nothing unusual.
My sophomore year in college, I was pitching in an intersquad game during the fall. In the third inning, my arm started to hurt. For days after I couldn't even throw a ball. After seeing a doctor and getting an MRI, we decided to try rehab before surgery. After rehab I was able to throw, but didn't have the same velocity and my elbow still hurt a bit.
I finally made the decision to get surgery. Now, I have a year of rehab and healing ahead of me before I'm ready to play again. Eventually, however, I should be good as new and ready to face batters again.
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Interview with Dr. William E. Straw
How does this injury commonly occur?
Tennis elbow is over use of the muscles and tendons around the elbow. It happens in people of all ages. It is called tennis elbow on the outside of the joint and golfer elbow when it is on the inside of the elbow.
This injury seems to occur more in less-skilled players, suggesting that good technique and conditioning are important.
What are the common symptoms that lead to a diagnosis?
The over use causes inflammation and pain in the muscles that attach to the elbow. It gets sore to the touch and hurts to grab (grip) things and shake hands.
What is the treatment?
- Cut back on the activities that hurt and avoid repetitive activities.
- Ice the area. You can freeze water in a Styrofoam cup, then massage the area with the ice.
- Take Ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation.
- As it gets better, do wrist curls with increasing weight – palm down for tennis elbow and palm up for golfer elbow.
It will take several weeks to six months to get better, but most do heal. Take it slowly and use a brace or tennis elbow strap to reduce the muscle pulling on the elbow. Physical therapy helps some people, as does ultrasound therapy. Sometimes steroid shots help, but it must be used with caution.
Are there any helpful prevention tips for this injury?
Do two-handed back strokes, which is less hard on the body than a one-handed back stroke. Keep the arm strong before you play tennis.
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PAMF Sports Medicine
By Marlana Jean Shile
College student writer
Read more about Sports.