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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


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

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.


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

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.

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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