The ulnar collateral ligament stabilizes the inside of the elbow through its various flexing and extending motions. This ligament can be ruptured by sudden traumatic accidents, but more commonly, deterioration over time results from stresses related to specific, repetitive motions. For this reason, this injury is common among baseball pitchers, javelin throwers, and athletes who play volleyball, racquet sports and other activities requiring overhead throwing movements. In some cases, non-surgical treatments involving rest, anti-inflammatories, and strengthening exercises can provide relief. However, in many cases, particularly in competitive athletes whose damage worsens over time, surgery may be necessary to restore stability to the elbow and improve function. This surgery, known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction or Tommy John Surgery after the LA Dodgers pitcher who first underwent the procedure in 1974 and returned to competitive play, surgically replaces the ligament with a tendon from elsewhere in the body.
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