Discover more from The Nats Report
Understanding Tommy John Surgery: What You Need to Know
Learn about Tommy John surgery, a procedure used to repair a damaged or torn UCL in baseball players and other athletes. Discover the success rate, risks, and alternatives to this surgery so that you can make informed decisions about your health and recov
Today's news of Washington Nationals pitching prospect Cade Cavalli going to receive Tommy John surgery might be a good time to re-visit what exactly is Tommy John's Surgery.
Tommy John surgery, also known as ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction surgery, is performed on athletes, particularly baseball players, to repair a damaged or torn UCL. The surgery was named after former Major League Baseball pitcher Tommy John, who underwent the procedure in 1974 and had a successful career.
The UCL is a ligament that connects the upper arm bone (humerus) to the forearm bone (ulna) and helps to stabilize the elbow joint. The repetitive throwing motion in baseball and other overhead sports can stress the UCL significantly, leading to tears or other damage.
Tommy John surgery involves replacing the damaged UCL with a tendon graft from elsewhere in the body, typically from the patient's own forearm, hamstring, or knee. The surgeon drills small holes into the humerus and ulna bones and then threads the graft through the holes in a figure-eight pattern to recreate the stability of the UCL. The surgery can take several hours, and patients typically require rehabilitation and physical therapy afterward.
While Tommy John surgery was initially considered a last resort for pitchers with severe UCL injuries, it has become more common in recent years as the procedure's success rate has improved. Studies have shown that approximately 80-90% of pitchers who undergo surgery can return to pitching at the same level or higher within 12-18 months.
However, the surgery is not without risks. As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection, bleeding, and other complications. Additionally, there is a risk of re-injury or failure of the graft, which may require additional surgery.
It's worth noting that Tommy John surgery is not a guaranteed solution for all UCL injuries. In some cases, non-surgical treatments such as rest, physical therapy, and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections may effectively relieve symptoms and promote healing.
In conclusion, Tommy John surgery is a surgical procedure used to repair a damaged or torn UCL in baseball players and other athletes. While the procedure's success rate has improved in recent years, it is not without risks and is not a guaranteed solution for all UCL injuries. Athletes should work closely with their doctors and trainers to determine the best course of treatment for their particular injury.