Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Elbow Ligament Injuries

Elbow ligament injuries are injuries to the strong connective tissues that hold the bones of the elbow joint together. The main ligaments involved are:

  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
  • Annular ligament

Common Symptoms

  • Pain and tenderness around the elbow joint
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Instability or looseness of the joint
  • Difficulty moving the elbow or gripping objects
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers (in case of UCL injury)

Cause & Anatomy

  • Acute trauma like a fall on an outstretched arm or a direct blow to the elbow
  • Overuse injuries from repetitive overhead motions like throwing in baseball pitchers (common cause of UCL injuries)

The elbow is a hinge joint formed by the articulation of the humerus (upper arm bone) with the radius and ulna (forearm bones). The MCL and LCL provide valgus and varus stability, while the annular ligament encircles the radial head for stability.


  • Physical examination to assess instability, pain, and range of motion
  • Valgus and varus stress tests to check ligament integrity
  • X-rays to rule out fractures
  • MRI scan to visualize soft tissue damage and confirm ligament tear


  • Proper warm-up and stretching before activities
  • Strengthening exercises for surrounding muscles
  • Using correct techniques for throwing or overhead motions
  • Avoiding overuse and taking breaks when needed



  • Rest, ice, compression, elevation, NSAIDs, bracing, physical therapy


  • Ligament repair or reconstruction surgery for complete tears, often needed for overhead athletes

Surgery & Rehabilitation

Common surgeries include UCL reconstruction (Tommy John surgery) and repair of other ligament tears. Rehabilitation follows a progressive, multi-phased approach focused on restoring range of motion, strength, and functional use of the arm.


How long does an elbow ligament injury take to heal?
Depends on severity, from weeks for minor sprains to months for complete tears requiring surgery.

What is the most common elbow ligament injury?
Injuries to the UCL, often seen in overhead throwing athletes like baseball pitchers.

Can an elbow ligament injury heal on its own?
Minor sprains may heal with rest and self-care, but severe tears often require medical treatment and rehabilitation

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