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I'm kind of new to this site so I searched I search "Tommy John" and read through the forums. So it seems like a lot of people here have some experience on this subject. First off I'm 17 and a senior in HS. I've been having arm issues lately and I have a doctors appointment scheduled for next week. Could any of you list some of the symptoms you you or someone you knew had that resulted in some type of ucl or arm injury? 

So far these are the problems that I've had: 

numbness, occasional pain around the inside of my elbow, slightly wild throws, 2 days ago I was putting on a shirt and my elbow popped 3 time with pain and I think a big drop in velocity. ( I was throwing somewhere in 80s during the year and I was just clocked in the low 70s a week ago) . Also my arm doesn't hurt constantly but I know that some of the muscles you use to throw a baseball aren't commonly used throughout a normal day. 

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I'm not a doctor, but I have researched elbow injuries a bit due to my son's issues last year.  The symptoms you list do sound consistent with a UCL injury.  Get to that doctor's appointment.  Try to find the best, closest sports injury physician working with elbow issues that you can.  The physician will do a physical exam asking you to press against his hand in different positions, and move your arm in various ways to look for obvious tears.  Ask for an MRI with contrast, as that will be the clearest view.  And, even if they find a tear, it might not be the type of tear that requires surgery - might just need time and physical therapy. 

Wishing you the best!


I don't think anyone would want to give you wrong advice here, so definitely see a doctor as soon as possible. If it can be arranged, it is best to jump right to someone who handles athletes - or at the least an orthopedist.  Your typical family doctor will most likely just prescribe rest for a few weeks before passing you along to a specialist. You can probably save some time by skipping that step.

My son went through UCL issues as a freshman.  His MRI ended up being inconclusive, and the doctor felt that since a large tear wasn't evident, we should try physical therapy first.  That ended up being the correct call as post therapy (and some mechanical changes), my son hasn't had any elbow issues for almost three years.

As for the velocity drop off - One of the things our body will unconsciously do is to protect itself.  If you have an acute loss of velocity, there is usually something wrong even if consciously you don't realize it. 

Our son had Tommy John two years ago.  He felt the problem right away, on a specific pitch.  Said it felt like hitting his funny bone, but in his elbow.  MRI did not show the tear, but after an attempt at rest and rehab, he had the surgery in which the doctor (Dodgers doc) did a few tests in his office, said it was easy to diagnose and after the surgery said there was extensive damage.

Advice above is good - get to a doctor who knows what he/she is doing on elbow injuries.

My son's UCL tear was described as long term and progressive.  He never felt a pop.  But in the last week of the summer he did experience a significant velo drop that got worse every outing, and then eventually mild pain while throwing.

Ditto all the advice above, plus this - despite all you hear about it within the baseball community, TJ is actually a fairly rare procedure in the overall population.  Paraphrasing what Dr. Cain told us, the UCL's only purpose is for throwing a baseball, so UCL tears are rare outside of baseball.  And if you aren't a baseball player, there's usually no need to have it surgically repaired if it does tear.

Consequently, most local ortho surgeons don't do the surgery.  If you have a UCL tear and want to continue your baseball career after high school, you need to go to a surgeon experienced with college and professional pitchers.  It's probably going to require some travel.

Do your homework on surgeons.  We were fortunate enough to have a travel ball pitching coach who was an ex-Major Leaguer that had the surgery and made it back to the show.  He directed us to Dr. Cain in Birmingham, even though that is 3 hours away.  If you don't have such a resource at your disposal, call the trainer at your nearest MLB team or major college to see who they would recommend.

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