About Ulnar Ligament Injuries

What is it and what are your treatment options?
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267
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What is an Ulnar Ligament Injury?

The UCL is a small triangular ligament that connects the ulna (wrist bone) to the humerus (upper arm) and prevents the elbow from bending too far to either side. This ligament is especially important for athletes whose positions require an overhand throwing motion as it allows for control and torque.

Common Causes:

  • Injury
  • Repeated stress from overhead movement

Symptoms of Ulnar Ligament Injury may include:

  • Pain on the inside of the elbow
  • A sense of looseness or instability in the elbow
  • Irritation of the “funny bone” (ulnar nerve): This is felt as tingling or numbness in the small finger and ring finger
  • Decreased ability to throw a baseball or other object

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms immediately seek treatment by making an appointment with Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) Upper Extremity Specialist.

When you arrive for your initial consultation, an Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) Upper Extremity Specialist will evaluate your areas of concern, discuss your symptoms, and develop a customized and comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. This evaluation is a necessary part of diagnosing your condition and providing the best possible care.

When diagnosing ulnar ligament injury, our experts will provide:

  • A medical, injury, and symptom history review
  • A physical examination
  • Multiple view x-rays ( to rule out a fracture) and MRI

Once an official diagnosis is made, a customized treatment plan is prescribed. Treatment plans decrease symptoms as quickly as possible.

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options treat the majority of an ulnar ligament injury. Immobilization is important. Placing the elbow in removable brace immobilizes the joint. This gives the ligaments time to heal. Other treatment options help reduce symptoms. The following are commonly prescribed:

RICE Method

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) decreases swelling, inflammation, and pain

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

Taken orally or applied topically to decrease inflammation and pain

Physical Therapy

OPA approved physical therapist will provide exercises to strengthen the tendon and surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Activity Modification

Reduce or stop symptom causing activities

Bracing

Helps to support the elbow during physical activities

Our specialists may recommend surgery if other treatments do not provide the desired pain relief. But more often, surgical UCL repair is performed on athletes who need strong and stable elbows to play a sport. There are a few surgical UCL repair options depending on the type of injury you have:

If the UCL was injured in a single traumatic event and pulled off the bone, sometimes it may require surgical intervention.

If the UCL has suffered damage over time, you may need UCL reconstruction (Tommy John Surgery). Our physicians use the latest surgical techniques and instruments to rebuild your UCL. Physical therapy helps you regain strength and improves function to prevent future injury.

At OPA, our Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Upper Extremity Specialists are experts in treating ulnar ligament injuries.

If you are in pain and would like a treatment solution you should contact OPA to schedule an appointment at our location in Anchorage.

Schedule An Appointment

To receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan, please make an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Team Specialists at our offices conveniently located in Anchorage and Wasilla, AK.
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267

OPA Elbow Team

(click a provider to view profile)

Owen L. Ala, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Deryk Anderson, DO

Orthopedic Specialist

Tucker Drury, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Adam Ellison, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Jessie Janowski, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Jeff Moore, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Eli Powell, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Greg Schweiger, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Our Mission

To provide the finest orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal care in North America, offering general and specialized adult care to all Alaskans and visitors.

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