Rehabbing Vs Tommy John UCL Partial Tear

My Story.

During this last summer in 2014, I was pitching in one of our local home town talent league games. I was having a very successful game… Until I made one possibly life changing pitches. This pitch was a slider in warm ups… Yes warm ups, during my 5 pitch warm up before the next inning started. I went to go throw a slider, and i could hear a very uncomfortable feeling in my elbow, like a crunching noise. I threw the slider as if i were opening a door completely… A complete no no, and a complete accident. After that slider, I knew something was wrong. The pain wasn’t significant, so I continued to throw. My velocity dropped, and every time I release the ball I would get a tingling/soft pain in my elbow. The pain wasn’t enough to make me drop to the ground, but it was enough to make me realize there was something majorly wrong with it… I finished the inning somehow, with little to no control. I will never forgive myself for throwing that slider incorrectly. I hate myself for it.

The following few days after that I had limited range of motion with my arm, such as extending it, or bringing it back such as if I were to to try to flex. I followed that up with a trip to the doctor to see a specialist. Two weeks was the soonest I could get in. The specialist told me 6 to 8 weeks of rest, and than begin to slowly work into throwing again. I took the 6 to 8 weeks off from throwing, but I continued to lift weights. Lifting weights is a no no, in which the doctor forgot to inform me about. I try to comeback after 6 to 8 weeks and throw about 20 pitches in a live game. The first 15 pitches felt good, but buy the time i got to the last few I felt very awkward with my arm. So I called it quits for the rest of the summer.

Fall ball rolls around, which is about 2 months down the road from this happening, and coach allows me to throw, limiting me to around 3 bullpens at 80%., and no live throwing. My bullpens go very well at 80 percent. I even let a few go near max 100%. Everything felt pretty good… and normal.

I rest all winter long, and practice begins around January 11. I throw 4 to 6 pens starting at 70 % to 90% as I continue to work back after injury. I throw live for the first time, going 100%. I worked very hard to get my velocity up this winter, by doing Olympic lifting, and by bulking up. My velocity was back. Throwing harder than ever in late January. I would guess at least a low 90’s ball in there somewhere. I went onto strike out 6 of my 9 batters. My next pen 5 days later, I wasn’t feeling quite myself. My arm felt good, but control and body didn’t feel right… Coach had the radar gun out that day, but I didn’t even see it. Around my 38th pitch I threw a slider, not my first. I threw many before this. I threw this one correctly. I go to release it, and pop. I hear a pop, and feel a pop. My teammate and assistant coach both heard it. I played it off for another pitch because they thought it was my wrist. I went from 89 (found out after practice) to upper 70’s (Educated guess coach wasn’t clocking me than). Went to trainers etc…

Now here I am again on day 1. I have seen a specialist, but this time I took it much more serious. I got an MRI. They could not confirm it was a tear, they think its a tear. So i had to return for another MRI for a better shot because I moved during one of their shots. Got that result back and it was a labeled as a probable small UCL thickness tear. My specialist, believes that I can recover without surgical treatment. My healing process goes like this:

Week 1 -2 Brace 24/7 even when im sleeping
Week 3-4 Brace 24/7 but dont have to where when im sleeping
Month 2 and 3. Physical Therapy
Month 4 Throwing Program to see how my arm responds and healed.
IF this doesnt work… Surgery.

I have already redshirted this year… but if this doesn’t work. This will be very devastating, as I will have another year that I will miss. I get fitted for my brace tuesday, and may push for a PRP Injection for reinforcement of the healing process.

Do you think this is the right approach? Anyone have similar stories? Should I push for TJ on tuesday? Just thoughts would be great…

I am taking a different approach this rehab. I now know the details of my injury, and wont be lifting weights with my arm is a brace for a month. Plus correct rehab. Doctor seems confident that it will heal on its own… I hope so.

Very lengthy Post. I apologize. I wanted to share my story. I probably still forgot some details.

Very sorry to hear about your situation. When I tweaked my shoulder in minor league ball during a fielding play that ultimately led to shoulder surgery, I decided to go the rehab route first. Spent 3 months rehabbing but only marginally improved and ended up needing the surgery anyways. I always wished I did the shoulder surgery sooner so that I didn’t miss as much time on the back end post surgery.

My roommate in college, also a MLB draft pick, had a small tear in his elbow. Was told to rehab first, which he did. But then eventually ended up having TJ surgery. He also wished he had the surgery sooner.

You need to continue to consult your doctor to determine what’s the best course of action – but we are all rooting for your success either way.

Keep us posted.

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Thank you for your the reply. That is what scares me… Deep down, I wish I could just get the surgery and not have to worry about it happening again. From what I heard, or read is that in most cases you have to get surgery anyway after rehab. I will continue to consult my doctor, but he is pretty set in stone that nonsurgical route is the way to go for now. This PRP shot has no evidence that it actually works, but I am going to get one because I have read many studies that it actually does have good success on UCL Partial Tears allowing for pitchers to come back in 15 weeks without complaint. My doctor doesn’t believe this will help, but I certainly think its worth a try.

Just read your post, assume you’re playing college ball. What year are you?

I am a sophomore, and will be a sophomore once again next year.

Injury Update: Been in brace since Tuesday, and will continue to wear it for the next month. Will be getting a PRP Injection in to the elbow in two weeks. Hopefully I can be living evidence that this injection works.

Keep us posted and stay positive. Keep working hard.

Another update. Got my PRP injection today! It went really well, although pretty painful, and expensive. The sports medicine doctor used ultra sound, and did some test on my arm. From the looks at it my UCL is recovery well, and there is no obvious tear. When he bent my arm with the ultra sound projecting images, the UCL looked healthy. He said it should heal… Pretty exciting news for myself.

Awesome! Best news of the day.

Awesome, keep ups posted on your rehab process and your return to velocity please.


I have been throwing the baseball for a month. Velocity is still there. No decrease in velocity, as far as I can tell. There may be some due to the fact that my arm is not in shape, or ready to pitch yet, but I haven’t fully let it loose yet. I have thrown hard, and it still has its great life.

Rehab program is very simple my therapist told me. His instructions were to go at my own pace, but slow. If I had no pain I can keep increasing my throwing velocity weekly. I’m already around 80% to 90% in effort because I really have no pain when I’m throwing.

Although, i have no pain when I’m throwing, the next day my elbow is sore. I can straighten it, but its sore when I do. I believe this Is normal for myself but not after playing a long session of catch. It usually happens after I pitch. Hopefully its temporary, and doesn’t get as sore all the time.

I’ll throw bullpens in about a month or so when I feel comfortable. Therepist predicted around 2 months of throwing before I actually fully pitch. I won’t throw live this summer because college coaches will not allow it. Hopefully I can stay healthy.

Does anyone get a stiff elbow after pitching, where it feels uncomfortable to fully extend it after a long outing, but recovers after a few days? Just wondering if that’s normal or just me.

Dang man sorry about that I got all kinds of wierd pains one day its a shoulder then an elbow a for arm all of that stuff.

Well, I have a similar story I guess. Back in 2011 or so, I injured my elbow throwing a slider albeit my mechanics weren’t that great. I didn’t bother throwing any longer and waited the next day when I learned couldn’t even throw a ball. I figured I torn my UCL but there was no way my parents were going to pay to get surgery for my elbow so I rehabbed.

I came back like 3 months to try out some soft toss and I could but I would get a small pain after each throw so I rested another 3-4 months, slowly came back and haven’t been hurt except every now and then at the start of each year where I start throwing for the first time during long toss where I have to rest like a week or 2.

I don’t really have any advice except to be patient and any sign of pain, stop what you’re doing and don’t expect any elbow injury to heal over night.

Side note: I haven’t thrown a slider since


I know this is an old post but I just injured my elbow, not in baseball but martial arts. My hand was planted on the mat and basically got kicked and hyperextended and of course I heard the infamous pop :frowning: They say I have a partial tear (vague) of my UCL, but my Ulna keeps popping out of place even when I am sleeping. Did you have any symptoms like that after you tore your UCL? Just curious, my ortho want to do the whole 6 weeks rest and in a brace thing…but my ulnar has been popping out 3-5 times a day for two weeks…just curious if you had any similar symptoms…Thanks!

That sucks, but you will recover soon enough. :blush:

In regards to my UCL, I did not have the symptom of popping out of place or of anything similar. From my perspective, it sounds like your tear is more severe. My tear was small, only 5%. My symptom was the extension of my arm in which was not possible for the first two weeks after the tear. Let your Doctor know what your experiencing.

Do you play Baseball as well?

So what every happened with your pitching? Did you throw in the fall? How did it go?

Its been a while since I have posted. Since you are curious I will give one. This injury occurred two years ago, and last year was my first season back.

It was an interesting situation to be in first of all. My school was closing, and we only had a 18 man roster… Many players decided to transfer including the our entire 20 recruits. I decided to comeback last year for multiple reasons. I came back for our seniors who had no other option and for the sake of my arm health not knowing if I could stay healthy. (Kind of bit me in the butt).

Last fall coming off injury went really good. I was limited with my throwing. I only threw one or two bullpens all that fall at about 80%. No live throwing. Very light schedule for myself in the fall, but everything felt great.

Spring rolled around and my coach basically ramped me up the way he would any other pitcher. I stayed on the regular schedule. Went 100% and armed seemed to be doing alright. Coach never did get the radar gun out because I was coming off injury and there was no need for it,

Season came around and my first two starts went amazing. I was a starter the whole season. Sat 86 to 89 with nasty movement on my four seam the first two games. In the second game my elbow was tweaked and had to be pulled. It wasn’t anything to serious… I personally think it was from overuse as my coach as I rushed back to pitch so quickly. The rest of my 10 starts… It seemed my arm progressively got worse and worse. In the last game I got as low as 78 on my fastball. I was throwing with a lot of pain everywhere in my arm. Like I said, I believe it was overuse and the way in which I conditioned my arm. Since our school was closing, it seemed liked no one cared what happened during the season, and resulted in myself not caring as well. I didn’t take care of my arm at all during the season…

Decided to take a couple weeks off from the season, and try to throw in a local game in my area… Went terrible. Maybe topped out at 80 mph… Terrible for myself. Took the whole summer off.

Season ended, I’m still only a redshirt sophomore at the time, Still needed to find a school. Had some good offers based on what I could do when healthy, but I honestly didn’t accept any of those good offers due to the fact that I personally didn’t think I could stay healthy. Ultimately decided on a NAIA school where I would be able to play even if my arm wasn’t healthy.

This fall rolled around… Once again my new coach didn’t let me throw live based on my arm condition from the last summer. Really slowly worked into it. My new coach did a great job allowing me to progress slowly to get my arm where it should be. Got to throw my first pen in November… Prolly sat 83 to 85. Velocity was better but I have a dream. 83 to 85 will not get me there.

December came around and I decided to do a velocity program here in town, and it has been the best decision I have made in my life in regards to pitching. I personally have been all about weight lifting… If I lift and put on mass I will simply throw harder… Well that was obviously not working for me. It helped some I’m sure, but not significantly. I went from 150 pounds to now 195. My squat shot up from 175 to now 375. Anyway, the program I did in the winter is the popular driveline program. Came in throwing low to mid 80’s with an alright arm and now sitting at least 86 on my exit pen. My run in gun went from mid 80’s to low 90’s in less than a month… Also, my arm feels amazing due to the Plyocare balls, recovery, etc…

So basically… It has been a struggle, but I am finally feeling healthy again. My UCL feels very strong now. It was a process but I think I have cracked the code. I will be doing what I did during December until the season starts and throughout the season when I can… Goal is to sit 88 to 90 opening day with a 91 peak.

Kaner can you give us an update? My son likely has a partial UCL tear (MRI scheduled for Monday) and I am already considering options. You started with a partial tear if I remember correctly. If it is an option would you suggest surgery as soon as possible? My son is only 14 so likely won’t be eligible for a few years.

Yeah I can give an update.

I will actually be getting UCL reconstruction (Tommy John) this Friday. Was suppose to be last week, but my doctor was sick.

After I did the driveline program this last winter, I kept it going up until the season started. I exceeded all my velocity goals. I was throwing gas again. I was only cocked twice all year, with both times being in my opinion not my best days. I was 86 to 89 in 35 degree weather and 90 to 92 the second time. Wouldn’t be surprised if I popped a 93 or 94 in another start or two where I wasn’t clocked.

Although I was throwing hard, I still struggled to throw a curveball. It felt uncomfortable. As I approached 30 inngs on the year my elbow started to hurt as I got around 50 pitches. Went to the doctor and a bone spur was growing. It was a large bone spur. I couldn’t touch my shoulder because of it. Bone spur was growing because I had a partial tear in my UCL still which put pressure on my bone when I threw causing it to grow.

Doctor decided it was best to repair the UCL and shave down the bone spur. Plan is to be back in 9 months.

I can’t give a recommendation to do the surgery. Your boy is still young. Some people can heal fine from a partial tear while others can’t. One example is Tanaka from the Yankees who is pitching with a partial tear.

Thank you Kaner. So are you replacing or repairing the UCL? I’m hoping my son is able to get by with repair surgery at most, but will have a better idea afer the mri.

Good luck with your surgery