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UCL Tear Treatment & Specialists

Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics -  - Orthopedics

Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics

Orthopedics & Sports Medicine located in Nashville, TN & Franklin, TN

An ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear is an elbow injury prevalent among baseball pitchers and athletes who throw. The team at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics provides UCL tear treatment for adolescents and adults at four locations in Nashville and one in Franklin, Tennessee. For advanced treatment of UCL tears, call the nearest office or book an appointment online today.

UCL Tears and UCL Tear Treatment

What is a UCL tear?

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) attaches your upper arm bone to the ulna, one of the bones in your forearm. The UCL supports your elbow and helps you perform certain motions, like throwing a baseball.

Overuse or trauma can cause the UCL to tear, causing elbow pain and instability, making it difficult or impossible to throw a ball.

Tommy John surgery is a UCL tear treatment that gets its name from a baseball pitcher – the first person to undergo a UCL reconstruction procedure and return to play successfully.

What causes a UCL tear?

Most UCL tears occur gradually due to repetitive stress on the ligament. Athletes who use overhead arm motions like throwing are most likely to injure their UCL this way.

You can also tear your UCL suddenly, like from a fall on an outstretched arm. A sudden UCL tear may occur with other acute injuries, like an elbow fracture or dislocation.

What are the symptoms of a UCL tear?

You may have a UCL tear if you experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Elbow pain and stiffness
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Loss of function in the arm and elbow
  • Numbness or tingling in your ring finger or pinky
  • Weakness or clumsiness of your hand

UCL tear symptoms most often affect your ability to participate in throwing sports. You may still be able to carry out most daily living activities, like carrying a bag of groceries.

How is a UCL tear diagnosed?

UCL injuries can be challenging to diagnose, which is why it’s essential to seek treatment from the expert team at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. 

They thoroughly review your medical history and perform a physical exam that may include a valgus stress test, which evaluates the condition of your UCL.

On-site imaging tests at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics, like an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, help the team diagnose your UCL injury so they can develop a treatment plan.

How is a UCL tear treated?

Many people find sufficient pain relief from the conservative treatment of UCL tears. Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Activity modification
  • Immobilization
  • Physical therapy
  • Ice and heat
  • Medication to reduce pain and inflammation

If non-surgical treatment doesn’t work, or if you’re a throwing athlete who wants to return to sports, surgery may be necessary.

The expert team at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics specializes in Tommy John surgery, which involves reconstructing the UCL with a tendon from another part of your body or a donor.

If you think you have a UCL tear, call Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics, or book an appointment online today.


Our UCL Tear Specialists

Dr. Elrod


Dr. Moore


Dr. Martin