Tommy John Surgery?

So i’m at a cross roads here.

I tore my UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in mid December… it was diagnosed in mid January. I sought out 2 other opinions from my primary orthopedist, including a specialist who trained under Dr. Andrews in the 1990’s.

I decided to go with the specialists advice, and tried to rehab it to see how it would heal over. So far i’ve done approx. 2 months of PT following all of the protocols and guidelines of the physical therapist. The physical therapist is a throwing specialist who was recommended by the orthopedist.

I have just started the actual return to throwing part of the rehab process, which starts with medicine balls for about 2 weeks, then getting into a real baseball. The first medicine ball toss is with two hands, from the side of my head forward to a partner with a 3-4 lb medicine ball. While throwing, I am experiencing slight discomfort, but not severe. After throwing the elbow aches. This is supposed to be done every day.

On top of the throwing program, i have a number of stretches to be done everyday, and have recently started a slight restricted “Throwers Ten” program.

Most of the tube work in the throwers ten gives me no pain in the elbow, but there are a few exercises in the program i have been instructed to do that do give me moderate discomfort in the elbow. These exercises are done with light weights, and include: Shoulder Abduction to 90 degrees, prone horizontal abduction (neutral), and Elbow flexion, better known as “curls”.

The curls only give discomfort now and then, but sometimes i experience a locking sensation of the the joint, and i have to wiggle my arm a bit to free it.

My appointment with the orthopedist is April 7th, and i don’t want to go there with nothing to say, and no opinion on whether or not PT is working, because i have a feeling if i go there and not tell him much of anything, he will say something like “I’ll see you back in two months so we can decide whether or not PT is working”. However these two months, are two months i DO NOT have to waste if i am going to have surgery. I’m a sophomore in high school, and am already going to miss my sophomore year… if i have the surgery done any later than the end of April, or beginning of May i feel i might be seriously jeopardizing my Junior season because of the time it can/does take to rehab Tommy John surgery. You don’t even start throwing a ball until 8 months in, which puts me at February, you are not expected to be able to return to full competition until 10-12 months… which puts me halfway into/past my JR. year… never mind being able to prepare and get ready for the upcoming season in the baseball off season (december, january, febuary, etc.)

I have this big fear in the back of my mind that rehabbing it without surgery is not going to work properly and giving it all this time could put next season at serious risk… but then again i don’t know for sure that rehab won’t work either.

You have to understand that i don’t take the idea of surgery lightly at all… i’m a three sport athlete and it’s taking to of them completely out of the picture (football and basketball) for my Jr. year… but it is something that i am willing to do if deemed necessary for my main sport, which is baseball. It also is taking a serious toll on my mind, because when i went to go see this orthopedist, i was not aware that rehabbing without surgery was even a serious option, and was thinking i was all set to go and ready to have surgery. This is mostly because of what the orthopedists before him told me which was; “If you want to ever be able to pitch seriously again, you’re going to need surgery, I can tell you that right now.”

Anyways- sorry for rambling, but what should I do?

I also posted this in the pitching injury section but figured it may get more hits here…

Visit your doctor and tell him as honestly and accurately as you can what happens when you do your various rehab drills. Let him draw his own conclusion. Then discuss it with him.

yeah, well that’s what i plan to do…

i don’t want to rush into surgery… but at the same time part of me thinks i’m really going to need it anyways…and i just want to get it over and done with… out of the way.

I understand. It’s a tough position to be in and I feel for ya’. Let us know what the doc says.

yeah… the more i think about what i am writing/typing i could understand why it seems a bit ridiculous… the solution seems simple, give rehab a shot and see what happens/what the doc thinks.

I wish in my mind it was that easy… but for whatever reason i keep convincing myself that rehab is not going to work, and i’m going to end up needing surgery.

It’s making be go crazy… i’d just kill to be able to throw a ball right now.

a guy on my college team tore his UCL and did rehab rather than surgery and it worked perfectly. He still gets sore after pitching, but he didnt lose any Velocity.

I frayed my UCL as a sophomore in high school and went on to pitch through college without needing surgery.

For all the success stories you hear about TJ surgery, it is not 100% successful. A conservative approach is always the best approach. Know that the area you are dealing with is going to take time to calm down. Be patient and listen to your doc.

tommy john surgery is a risk. it has approximately a 70% success rate. that means 3 of 10 pitchers who have the procedure must retire (even if they’re 15). be careful.