What is Tommy John Surgery

As baseball season begins, it's important to be aware of common injuries that players may face. In this video, Dr. Nicholas Sablan, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at Tidewater Orthopedics in Hampton and Williamsburg, VA, discusses Tommy John surgery, a procedure commonly performed on baseball pitchers.

Tommy John surgery, named after the MLB pitcher who first underwent the procedure, is a reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow. This ligament is subjected to significant stress during baseball, particularly for pitchers. The surgery involves replacing the torn ligament with tissue from the patient's body or a cadaver.

Key points covered in the video:

  • Tommy John surgery is most common among high-level baseball players, especially pitchers.
  • The rehabilitation process is extensive, lasting 6-12 months, and involves immobilization, range of motion exercises, strengthening, and a gradual return to throwing.
  • Risks include failure of the reconstruction, re-injury, and potential irritation of nearby nerves.
  • Symptoms leading to Tommy John surgery include a gradual decrease in velocity, accuracy, and overall performance.
  • Alternative treatments, such as internal bracing, are gaining popularity for acute traumatic injuries.
  • Success rates for Tommy John surgery are high, with over 85% of patients returning to the same level of competition.
  • Injury prevention strategies include proper warm-up, core strengthening, maintaining shoulder flexibility, and focusing on scapular stabilizers.

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