Tommy John surgeryThis page contains recent news articles, when available, and an overview of Tommy John surgery but does not offer medical advice. You should contact your physician with regard to any health issues or concerns.
News: Tommy John surgery
Background information on Tommy John surgery [When available]
Tommy John surgery, known by doctors as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (or UCL), is a surgical procedure in which a ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon or ligament from elsewhere in the body (often the forearm, hamstring or wrist). The surgery is named after Tommy John, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers who was the first professional athlete to successfully undergo the operation in 1974. The procedure was performed by Dr. Frank Jobe.
Chances of a complete recovery after surgery are estimated today at 85 to 90 percent. At the time of Tommy John's operation, Jobe put his odds at 1 in 100. After his surgery in 1974, John spent 18 months rehabilitating his arm, returned for the 1976 season, and went on to pitch in the major leagues until age 46. Today, the procedure takes about an hour, and full rehabilitation takes about a year.
It is not uncommon today for pitchers to throw harder after the surgery than they did before the injury that caused the surgery to be necessary.
A torn elbow ligament — the most common cause of what was simply called "dead arm injury" during most of the 20th century — can be caused by a number of things, but the injury is most common in pitchers and the most frequent cause is throwing too hard or overwork.
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