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Ulnar Ligament Injuries

Ulnar ligament injuries cause pain, swelling, and decreased motion. Treatment includes rest, ice, medication, immobilization, physical therapy, and possibly surgery.
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What is an Ulnar Ligament Injury?

An ulnar ligament injury affects the outside part of the elbow joint and is common among overhead throwing athletes. Injuries can range from mild inflammation to a complete tear, with symptoms including pain, swelling, bruising, and decreased range of motion.

Fellowship-trained and board-certified specialists diagnose these injuries through elbow examination and possibly MRI. They prescribe customized treatment plans based on the severity of the injury. Nonsurgical treatments for mild to moderate injuries include rest, ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), immobilization with a splint or brace, and physical therapy.


The elbow is a hinge joint. The humerus (arm bone), radius (large forearm bone), and ulna (small forearm bone) join to form the elbow joint. Ligaments hold the bones together. The ulnar ligament is a ligament on the lateral (outside) part of the elbow.

The ulnar ligament is susceptible to injury. A great deal of stress is placed on the ulnar ligament when throwing motions are performed. Overhead throwing athletes are most at risk to sustain an ulnar ligament injury. An injury can range from mild inflammation and irritation to a complete tear.

Pain is the most common symptom of an ulnar ligament injury. Pain usually gets worse when an object is gripped or a fist is made. Swelling and bruising are symptoms of a complete tear. Decreased range of motion and decreased performance are common.

Our specialists diagnose and treat ulnar ligament injuries. All specialists are fellowship trained and board-certified. An elbow examination reveals injury severity. An MRI may be ordered if a tear is suspected. A customized treatment plan is prescribed after an accurate diagnosis is made.

How is an Ulnar Ligament Injury Treated?

Nonsurgical treatment options treat mild to moderate injuries. A combination of treatment options is prescribed. Any of the following may be included in an OIBO specialist’s customized treatment plan:

  • Rest and ice: Quickly decreases pain and inflammation.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Medications that decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Immobilization: The elbow is immobilized in a splint or brace.
  • Physical therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises.

Surgery is usually used to treat complete tears. Tommy John surgery removes the torn ligament and replaces it with a graft, usually one of the patient’s tendons. A splint is worn after surgery. Physical therapy is a very important part of recovery.

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Patients deserve personalized, outcome-driven care provided by physicians who genuinely care about them. As medicine has become more corporate and transactional, OrthoNJ prioritizes exceptional doctor/patient relationships. This is why we say we have The Power to Put Patients First.

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Patients deserve personalized, outcome-driven care provided by physicians who genuinely care about them. As medicine has become more corporate and transactional, OrthoNJ prioritizes exceptional doctor/patient relationships. This is why we say we have The Power to Put Patients First.

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