The ligament that Tommy John injured was the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) on the inside of his elbow joint. Athletes with an injury to this ligament experience pain and discomfort on the inside of their elbow and also have instability in the elbow joint.
Tommy John surgery, developed by Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974, is a surgical procedure to reconstruct the UCL using a tendon from the forearm. The tendon is used to recreate the damaged ligament and improve the stability of the elbow joint.
One of The Hand & Upper Extremity Center of Georgia’s elbow surgeons, Dr. Gary Lourie, says Tommy John surgery offers tremendous benefits for active patients, especially pitchers.
“The success rates following this surgery are roughly 85%,” Dr. Lourie says. “It allows patients with UCL injuries to return to their active, pre-injury lifestyles.”
Today, Tommy John surgery can be used to extend the careers of many baseball pitchers.