The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is the most commonly injured elbow ligament in throwing athletes. Injuries of the UCL can range from minor damage and inflammation to a complete tear of the ligament.
In baseball pitchers, the rate of injury is correlated to the number of pitches thrown, the number of innings pitched, and the number of months spent pitching each year.
To surgically repair the UCL and restore normal elbow mechanics, the ligament needs to be reconstructed. In most cases, one of the patient’s own tendons is used to reconstruct the ligament. This procedure is known as a “Tommy John” reconstruction.
The elbow may occasionally get stiff from a previous fracture or ligament injury. Elbow arthritis can also lead to limited motion. In some cases of an elbow contracture, the scar tissue can be released arthroscopically, restoring normal motion.
The triceps is the only muscle that actively extends the elbow. Injuries of the triceps can arise from powerful elbow extension during weightlifting or after a fall onto the arm. Full thickness tears of the triceps need to be repaired to restore normal elbow function.
Tears of the biceps tendon are most often caused by a sudden load placed on the elbow against resistance. They often result in greater arm weakness than injuries to the biceps tendon at the shoulder. In active patients, repair restores strength back to baseline.