The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), also called medial collateral ligament, is located on the inside of the elbow and connects the ulna bone to the humerus bone. It is one of the main stabilizing ligaments in the elbow, especially with overhead activities such as throwing and pitching. When this ligament is injured, it can end an athlete’s career unless surgery is performed. The common symptoms associated with a UCL injury are pain on inner side of the elbow, instability, little or ring finger numbness, and decreased throwing performance.
Conservative treatment includes activity modification, rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and injections like cortisone or platelet-rich plasma. If conservative treatment fails, surgery is indicated. UCL reconstruction surgery involves replacing a torn ulnar collateral ligament with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. It is also referred to as Tommy John Surgery. Advances have made this operation particularly successful in returning athletes to play.