Diagnosis of UCL Injuries

Sometimes, a doctor can diagnose a UCL injury through just a history and physical examination. Diagnostic tests may include:

  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • MRI after gadolinium dye has been injected into the elbow

Because such tests are not 100% accurate, however, it can be difficult to diagnose a UCL injury.

Treatment of UCL Injuries

UCL injuries are usually first treated with conservative (non-surgical) therapies. These therapies include:

  • rest
  • ice
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Patients then typically undergo physical therapy. This strengthens surrounding muscles to compensate for the injured UCL.

But some athletes may be candidates to have surgery right away. Tommy John surgery is most commonly recommended for athletes who:

  • Don’t respond to non-surgical treatments
  • Want to resume strenuous overhead or throwing activities