Treatment and After-care for Tommy John Surgery

By editor
September 15, 2015

Tommy John surgery, or ulnar collateral ligament construction, is a surgical procedure where a replacement of a ligament in one's elbow is done with the help of a tendon taken from another parts of the body such as hamstring, forearm or foot. This surgical procedure was developed for the pitcher Tommy John by Dr. Frank John after whom the surgery was named.

This is an injury that is caused by the elbow's repetitive use while throwing a baseball. This activity involves violent motions. A new tendon is implanted by the surgeon during the Tommy John Surgery. The tendon passes through tunnels during the surgery. In some cases, a surgeon may make use of a tendon that has been donated instead of using the patient's own tissue.

At times, a UCL injury can be detected through a physical examination and the patient's history. Diagnostic tests include MRI and X-rays. A UCL injury is ideally treated with non-surgical or conservative therapies in the beginning. Some of these therapies include ice, rest and NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Patients then usually participate in physical therapy. Tommy John surgery is usually recommended for all athletes who are not responsive to conservative treatments and want to resume their throwing or overhead activities.

Rehabilitation from the surgery takes about a year or so. In some cases, it may even take up to 2 years for an athlete to resume their previous activity levels. Rehabilitation of the surgery is very critical, and the after-care process should be closely monitored by the doctor of the patient and his physical therapist. Patients are usually advised to use a splint for a period of time so that the elbow remains immobilized. Exercises are also recommended to make the shoulder and arm strong.

For more information on Tommy John surgery, contact Dr. Stephen J. Franzino. We are located in California and can be contacted at 707.258.2547 or 707.446.6206. We look forward to hearing from you.

Elbow Injuries


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