What Is a UCL Sprain and How Is It Treated?
If you have recently sustained a UCL sprain, you should begin treating the injury immediately for the quickest and most effective recovery. Most UCL sprains can be treated at home with a few simple exercises. More severe sprains should be treated by a professional in our office.
First, what is the UCL?
The UCL (Ulnar Collateral Ligament) is located on the inside part of the elbow and helps connect the humerus to the ulna. The UCL stabilizes the elbow during flexion and extension movements, like the act of throwing a ball. The spraining of the UCL is common in athletes and should heal fairly quickly if treated properly. Less severe injuries like stretched and partially torn UCLs happen more frequently, but in some cases, a person could sustain a complete tear of the UCL.
Home treatment options
When a UCL injury occurs, it is best to have it examined before trying to treat it at home. An examination and treatment advice will ensure that no additional injuries take place during treatment. Once approved to begin caring for the injury at home, the following conservative options will slowly rebuild strength while reducing pain and swelling:
Rest is of the utmost importance following a UCL sprain. The more the injured ligament is used, the more swelling and pain it will experience. Allowing the injury time to heal will help it heal more quickly. This means taking some time away from sports and heavy use of the elbow.
#2. Taking anti-inflammatory medication
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories may reduce swelling and alleviate pain and stiffness in the elbow.
#3. Physical therapy
A few days or weeks following rest and anti-inflammatory treatments, depending on the extent of the injury, physical therapy may be performed. Physical therapy will strengthen the muscles and tendons around the elbow to help it become more stable, protecting the UCL in the future. For athletes, it may also address any improper throwing mechanics and train the patient to use the elbow and arm in a more efficient manner to reduce stress on the ligaments.
#4. Support the UCL
Slings and braces may be used as needed to provide support and movement restriction while the injury heals.
Other treatment options
In the case of a serious UCL injury like a torn ligament, surgical intervention may be required, which we can determine in our office. Following such treatment, physical therapy will be needed to ensure that the UCL heals completely. Through physical therapy, the muscles and tendons surrounding the UCL will be strengthened gradually to prevent the injury from happening again.
Non-invasive treatment solutions may also help.
High-dose laser therapy, injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem therapy are other options that may be used to treat UCL sprains and other conditions.
Before having surgery or considering invasive procedures, we always recommend trying non-invasive treatments. They are frequently used to reduce pain and promote healing.
Begin treatment by calling our office
If you have sustained a UCL sprain, visit our office to learn more about your treatment options. Proper treatment will have you back to normal quickly and allow you to perform daily tasks without pain or stiffness. Call us at (732) 385-2739 for more information from Apex Sports and Regenerative Medicine.