Can you finish the season before having reconstructive surgery? What about avoiding surgery altogether? No one likes the idea of missing a year of sports, but is there a risk of doing more harm to yourself? In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I address that question for a college athlete who might need Tommy John surgery.

Scott asks:
I am a 22-year-old student who throws javelin competitively in college and also high jumps. Two months ago, I completely tore my UCL and was suggested surgery. I was wondering if holding off on the surgery through my senior year would be a bad idea. I do not want to miss my final year, but I also want to do what’s in my best interest. There is currently no pain. Any advice would be extremely helpful! Thank you, and I appreciate what you do for others!

While we think of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries of the elbow as common in baseball pitchers, overhead athletes in other sports occasionally suffer them as well. In fact, these injuries were first described in javelin throwers.Location of the UCL reconstructed in Tommy John surgery

We have seen how baseball pitchers often struggle with the ligament torn, so they usually undergo Tommy John surgery. Not everyone needs surgery, though.

In this video, I discuss how an athlete can determine if he needs surgery now or if he can wait until after the season. With this injury, it is possible that an athlete could avoid it altogether, and I describe who can potentially avoid surgery.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – Do you need surgery for a UCL injury?
Ask Dr. Geier: Partial UCL injuries of the elbow

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