EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Latest News

November 28, 2011

Experts separate Tommy John surgery fact and fiction

Can a pitcher tear his ulnar collateral ligament on one pitch? Is it true that Tommy John surgery to replace the ligament can make you a better pitcher?

Two experts on Tommy John surgery — Dr. Luke Oh and Dr. Thomas Gill — talked about myths and realities of the procedure in separate interviews with The Eagle-Tribune.

Oh is a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Boston Red Sox team physician. Gill is the chief of Massachusetts General Hospital's sports medicine service, a former Red Sox medical director and a current medical director for the New England Patriots. Here are excerpts from the interviews.

Q: Can the ulnar collateral ligament tear on one pitch?

Dr. Oh: Some pitchers may describe throwing a single pitch, they hear a pop and have pain in the medial aspect of the elbow and discover that they have torn the ligament. But these usually happen in people who have been throwing for a while. Their ligament has undergone some attenuation and stretching over their careers. And it very well may be that a single pitch can complete that tear or complete the injury to a full-sized tear.

Q: Is surgery needed for a partial tear?

Dr. Oh: Sometimes it's possible to rehab through it and get back to pitching. But if it's a really big partial tear, it really functionally behaves like a ligament that can't sustain the torque of throwing. So those people may end up having surgery if they fail rehab.

Q: What is the normal recovery time from Tommy John surgery?

Dr. Oh: About 11 months to 16 months. The professional athletes at the minor league and major league levels take closer to the one-year mark. ... But at the high school and college levels, they do take a little bit longer because these young athletes don't have the same rotator cuff strength that major league ballplayers have.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News

AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Photos of the Week