UCL Tears

UCL Tear Overview

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) stabilizes the inside part of the elbow joint. A partial or complete UCL tear is a serious injury that will not heal on its own. A Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates’ (CONA) elbow specialist should see the injury as soon as possible.

Symptoms & Causes

UCL tear symptoms include:

  • Elbow joint instability
  • Numbness and tingling in the small and ring fingers
  • Pain

Throwing sports are the main UCL tear cause.

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options treat some partial tears. After a thorough evaluation, a CONA elbow specialist may recommend:

  • Activity modification
  • Immobilization in a cast, splint or sling
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Rest and ice

Surgery may be recommended to treat complete tears. A CONA elbow specialist performs a UCL repair (Tommy John Surgery) to repair the torn ligament and stabilize the elbow.


A CONA specialist listens carefully as the patient describes how their injury occurred and what symptoms have presented. A physical examination tests elbow strength and stability. An MRI shows the UCL and other elbow soft tissues.

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