What Is a UCL Tear?
The UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) is a ligament on the inside of the elbow that provides stability and rotation for the elbow joint.
An injury to the UCL is commonly associated with baseball pitchers, however, the UCL can be injured in different ways.
In some instances, the UCL can be torn due to an accident or sudden trauma such as a fall onto an outstretched arm or an impact that dislocates the elbow and tears the UCL in the process.
In other instances, the UCL is torn due to repetitive strain (such as throwing) that weakens the ligament over time.
Research has shown that repetitive throwing over the course of many years slowly weakens the ligament by creating small microtears.
Because many pitchers do not adequately rest their throwing arms, these tears do not have time to heal properly and develop into larger tears that cause pain and instability.
This injury is also common among those whose jobs require repetitive overhead motions, such as painting or construction.