Tommy John Surgery | Elbow | MedStar Health

Tommy John surgery

MedStar Health is proud to offer ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery. Our experienced elbow surgeons offer comprehensive care for an effective procedure and a successful recovery. Our surgeons are fellowship-trained in ligament reconstruction and specialize exclusively in caring for elbow injuries.

What is ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction?

The ulnar collateral ligament is a small, tough, and flexible connective tissue that is located on the inner portion of your elbow, helping to secure the joint. Over time, the ligament may tear, especially in athletes who play throwing sports. When this ligament is injured, it may require reconstruction surgery from an orthopedic specialist.

What does ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction involve?

The goal of Tommy John surgery is to repair the torn ligament by replacing it with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. During this procedure, the ligament is accessed through small incisions through which the damaged tissues are removed to prepare for the replacement ligament. Then, the replacement ligament is attached to the bone using special screws and the incisions are closed.

What does recovery involve?

After surgery, your elbow will be secured in a brace to protect the tissue. Your surgeon will likely recommend that you start physical therapy right away. Within one or two weeks, you should be able to move your elbow, and you may be placed in an arm sling. By the end of the first month, you should be able to fully extend your elbow and you may be able to stop wearing the brace.

If you are a throwing athlete, you will likely need a longer rehabilitation before you can return to your sport. Throwing athletes often return to competition between six and nine months after Tommy John surgery. We will work closely with you and your family to monitor your recovery.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of visiting MedStar Health include:

  • Pain relief

  • Restored ligament strength

  • Improved mobility

  • Improved range of motion

  • Ability to return to physical activities following recovery