Ulnar Collateral Ligament problems can be a potentially career threatening, or even career ending, injury. Athletes that perform in overhead throwing sports, which have: poor mechanics, fatigue, and weakness can eventually lead to muscle strain, which will put more stress on the Ulnar Collateral Ligament. This stress can create microscopic tears in the ligament which, overtime, can produce one big tear. When the ligament undergoes stress over a lengthy amount of time, the ligament tends to stretch, which results in the joint becoming loose, because it no longer holds the bones together tightly. While the results of a tear to the Ulnar Collateral Ligament can put a halt to your sport performance, it is unlikely to interrupt the activities of daily living.
Extreme valgus stress, particularly during the acceleration phase of throwing, was felt to be responsible for most of the symptoms of a tendon tearing. It was believed that valgus stress led to failure in the medial elbow, medial joint capsule, and lastly, the joint itself. A valgus stress is the test the physician uses to test the stability of the elbow joint. It is also the best known way for a physician to access the condition of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament. A magnetic resonance (MRI) scan and x-ray can be done to further evaluate the health of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament. Diagnosing an Ulnar Collateral Ligament injury is the hardest part because examinations and tests are not 100% accurate. The first reported elbow problem of a professional baseball player was published in 1941. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, 50 percent of baseball pitchers had an incidence of elbow pain. Afflicted athletes in the 1960’s, mainly baseball pitchers, were diagnosed with “genetic dead arm” and were forced to retire early. The failure of pitchers to maintain their performance at their sport, led to an investigation into throwing mechanics. In the mid-1970’s, despite a heightened understanding of elbow pain in throwing athletes, treatment remained centered around non-operative treatment. The treatment options of an Ulnar Collateral Ligament injury depends on the athlete’s goals. If the athlete wants to return to his sport, that requires overhead throwing and stress on the elbow, then surgical repair of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament is recommended. If the athlete’s goals is joint pain and instability, than there are other non-surgical treatments. Ulnar Collateral Ligament reconstruction is currently the most commonly performed treatment. The first Ulnar Collateral Ligament reconstruction surgery was performed by Frank Jobe. He gave his