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UCL Sprain

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A ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain is a tear to one of the ligaments on the inner side of your elbow. A UCL sprain usually occurs due to a throwing motion – that typically occurs during sports – or after elbow dislocation or surgery. A UCL sprain can occur suddenly (acute), or can gradually come on over time with wear and tear.

Symptoms of a UCL sprain include:

  • Decrease in ability to throw
  • Feeling a pop or tear when the injury occurs
  • Inability to firmly grip objects with the hand
  • Inability to straighten the elbow
  • Numbness or tingling in the ring and little fingers and hand
  • Pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow that worsens when throwing an object
  • Swelling and bruising of the inner elbow and upper forearm

Treatments

Rest
You will need to avoid all physical activity involving the affected arm while it heals.

Ice
You should apply ice to the affected elbow a few times each day to help with pain and swelling.

Pain medication
Your doctor may recommend you take an over-the-counter pain medication – such as Motrin, Aleve, or Tylenol – to help manage related pain.

Physical therapy
Your health care provider may prescribe rehabilitation therapy. Our physical therapists establish a unique plan of care that includes specific interventions for your condition and situation to help alleviate pain and improve mobility.

Tests

Physical examination
Your doctor will conduct a complete physical examination and collect your health history to help make a diagnosis.

Imaging
Your specialist may recommend that you undergo imaging – such as an X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) scan – to confirm your diagnosis of a UCL sprain.


Why Choose the University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute?

World-class care in an academic health system. As a research and teaching institution, we treat children and adults with proven, leading-edge procedures based on clinical studies performed at the Miller School of Medicine. Our doctors, residents, nurses, and therapists work together to create healthy outcomes.

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