baseball player with scar

Tommy John Surgery

Tommy John Surgery (TJS), or it ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, is a medical procedure where a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. The replacement tendon is from either the hamstring, forearm, or foot of the patient. This surgery is extremely popular in the world of collegiate and professional athletes, most notably baseball, as it has proven to be very successful in providing the athlete with the power and range of motion they possessed prior to their injury. At our physical therapy in Massapequa, we can treat you today!

The surgery was first performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974 on the great major league pitcher Tommy John, whose career had seemingly come to an end after an ongoing injury to his left elbow. Dr. Jobe gave Tommy John’s surgery a 1 and 100 chance of being successful as the surgery was still new and experimental in nature. After a year of rehabilitation, both men realized the procedure had be a success and the surgery was dubbed Tommy John Surgery.

The injury results from repetitive use of the elbow during violent motions (such as throwing a baseball or javelin). The repetitive strain can lead to microscopic tissue trauma, inflammation, and eventually, a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) also known as the medial collateral ligament (MCL).

The procedure is quite interesting and inventive. The arm is opened up around the elbow and holes are drilled in the ulna and humerus bones. The tendon (graft) taken from somewhere else in the body or from a donor is passed through the tunnels (drilled holes) and woven into a figure-eight pattern to reconstruct the ligament. For extra strength, any remaining original ligaments are attached to the tendon as well.

After the surgery, there is a rigorous rehabilitation period that follows. In most cases, it takes up to a year for the patient to perform comfortable with their elbow but could take two years or more. Athletes work with a physical therapist after surgery to get their elbow back to their previous level of ability.

Did you know that you have Direct Access to Physical Therapy? No referral is needed. We offer the best physical therapy in Massapequa where you can get help from our trusted and expert Physical Therapists. We have several locations on Long Island including Massapequa, Valley Stream, Wantagh, and Lindenhurst. To start your Physical Therapy evaluation, call Park Physical Therapy and The Physical Therapy Alliance at (516) 568-4444.