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