What Is Tommy John Surgery In Baseball

Why is it called Tommy John Surgery?

Tommy John is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher who played in the league from 1963 to 1989. His Major League Baseball career has taken him to the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, California Angels, and Oakland Athletics, among other teams. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Tommy ruptured his ulnar collateral ligament while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1974, and he went on to become the first person to have ulnar collateral ligament reconstructive surgery.

Ulnar Collateral Ligament

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is a ligament that connects the upper arm (humerus) to the forearm and is found on the inside of the elbow (ulna). It’s one of two ligaments that connect the ulna and radius in the forearm to the humerus in the upper arm, the other being the ulnar collateral ligament. The radial collateral ligament (RCL) and the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) are large segments of connective tissue that run along the inside and outside of the elbow, connecting the bones. In a throwing action, the UCL is responsible for supporting your elbow, and it must be capable of withstanding an enormous amount of force.

What causes UCL injury?

When it comes to elbow stabilization, the UCL is the most important, and frequent motion can lead it to break down and wear away over time. If Tommy John Surgery is recommended, it is typically because the UCL has frayed, torn, or become loose as a result of overuse. If the UCL is not properly secured, the arm and elbow will be unable to be utilized without experiencing excruciating discomfort. An extended arm can be stretched and frayed as a result of a fall, and minor rips in the UCL might result.


In the event that you are having discomfort on the inside of your elbow and play in an activity that requires a lot of overhead motion, such as baseball, gymnastics, or volleyball, it is possible that you have injured your ulnar collateral ligament. Among the signs and symptoms of a torn UCL are:

  • Aching pain on the inside of the elbow
  • Diminished stability
  • Tingling sensations in your ring and pinky fingers
  • An irritated or uncomfortable feeling in your funny bone (or ulnar nerve)
  • Being unable to throw to the best of one’s capacity
  • On the inside of your elbow, there is swelling. Hand grasp is shaky.

UCL Reconstruction

Surgical ligament repair, often known as Tommy John surgery, is an option for athletes who have an unstable or ruptured UCL and who have failed to react to nonsurgical therapy alternatives. The majority of ligament rips cannot be repaired by suturing (stitching). The UCL must be surgically repaired in order to restore elbow strength and stability. The ligament must then be rebuilt. After a tissue transplant is placed in the elbow joint by the Raleigh Orthopaedic elbow surgeon, the damaged ligament will be repaired.

Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases of UCL damage, the ligament may be repaired with one of the patient’s own tendons.

It is common practice to link the grafted tendon to any remaining parts of the original UCL in order to give it additional strength.

Whether you’re considering surgery for a UCL injury or not, make an appointment with Raleigh Orthopaedic today to learn more about your treatment options and to determine whether you’re a good candidate for this sort of surgery in the first place.


Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Clinic is the first and only orthopedic surgery center in the Triangle that specializes only in orthopedic surgery. It was established in 1997. Raleigh Orthopaedic surgeons are board-certified and have received extensive training in their various sub-specialties. Each year, they conduct more than 9,000 outpatient orthopaedic treatments at the Raleigh Medical Center. To view a movie and learn more about Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center, please click on the button to the right.

Why is it called Tommy John surgery

In your daily life, you’ve most likely come across the phrase “Tommy John surgery” at some point in the last few years. Spring Training or a September pennant race, National League or American League – it can appear seemingly out of nowhere and at any time of the year, according to the baseball calendar. Even the best pitchers on the planet aren’t immune to the virus. However, as with much of baseball history, the ubiquity of the sport obscures an extremely important question: What exactly is Tommy John’s surgery?

  1. Was it inspired by two different men, Tommy and John, on separate occasions?
  2. And what exactly did Thomas and Jonathan do to earn such, shall we say, distinction?
  3. Thomas Edward John Jr.
  4. During his first decade in the Majors, he established himself as one of the most dependable starting pitchers in the game: From 1965 to 1973, the lefty pitched at least 177 innings in every season, never posting an ERA below the league average, and even earning an All-Star selection.
  5. It was also fortunate because, at the time, a pitcher who suffered a serious arm injury didn’t have many options for rehabilitation.
  6. According to conventional wisdom, the moment you went under the knife, your professional life was over.
  7. Pitching is associated with arm soreness, according to Sports Illustrated magazine in 1978.
  8. With a flick of the wrist, a professional career can come to an end.
  9. Thus, the pitcher stands out as a distinct species.
  10. His arm has a life—and a death—that is distinct from the rest of his body.

When he was pitching against the Montreal Expos on July 17, he felt a twinge in his arm, which he described as “the strangest sensation I had ever experienced.” “It was as if my body was still moving forward and my left arm had just taken off for right field on its own, completely independent of the rest of me.” No one could quite put their finger on what had happened.

  1. Doctor Frank Jobe, the team’s surgeon, initially diagnosed John with “Overuse Syndrome” and recommended that he ice his arm for several days to relieve the discomfort.
  2. In August, John attempted to throw a batting practice session but was unable to even get close to home plate.
  3. Contrary to popular belief, one of the most important moments in the history of sports medicine was spontaneously created.
  4. However, when he looked inside, he discovered something: after years of use, John had exhausted his supply of UCL, which could no longer be repaired.
  5. It was a procedure that was fairly common on wrists and hands, but it had never been attempted on an elbow – much less the elbow of a Major League pitcher.
  6. Because no one had ever had this surgery before, no one knew what to expect when it came to recovery.
  7. By the winter, he was back to pitching to real, live hitters, which meant that he only had one more hurdle to overcome: overcoming his fear of heights.

But it wasn’t just a matter of getting back into the big leagues for John.

In 1976, he threw 207 innings of quality work, and in 1977, he finished second in the National League Cy Young voting.

Jobe for consultation.

As of 2019, more than 500 Major League players have undergone Tommy John surgery, with a countless number of others undergoing the procedure in the Minors.

We might not have known the name Jacob deGrom had it not been for TJ (as it is now colloquially known), which he underwent in 2010 while playing in the minor leagues.

And as the procedure has gained popularity, the prognosis for those who undergo it has significantly improved.

While we hope that no pitcher will ever require it, it is comforting to know that the days of career-ending “sore arms” are over – and we owe a debt of gratitude to John.

Tommy John Surgery (UCL Reconstruction) and Recovery

The Tommy John procedure is used to repair a damaged elbow ligament. It is most frequently performed on collegiate and professional athletes, particularly baseball pitchers. However, it is sometimes performed on children and teenagers as well. Tommy John, a former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, is honored by having his operation named after him. He was the first person to have this sort of surgery, which occurred in 1974. The procedure known as Tommy John surgery is also known as UCL reconstruction.

During Tommy John surgery, a surgeon replaces the torn UCL with a tendon that has been harvested from another part of the patient’s anatomy.

To learn more about the original Tommy John surgery, which is still performed today and has allowed hundreds of athletes to return to their prior levels of performance, visit WebMD now.

How UCL Injuries Develop

The UCL is placed on the inside of the elbow, on the lateral aspect of the joint. It is a joint that links the upper arm bone (humerus) to a bone in the forearm (radius) (ulna). Anyone can sustain a UCL injury as a result of repeated elbow stress or as a result of a traumatic event. Throwers, on the other hand, are at the greatest risk. This is due to the fact that throwing actions that twist and bend the elbow place a great deal of strain on the ligament. The UCL might acquire little or big rips over the course of time.

Baseball players are the ones that sustain the most of UCL injuries.

These sports are as follows:

  • Tennis, gymnastics, soccer, softball, football, wrestling, and cheerleading are some of the sports available.

Symptoms of a UCL Injury

The following are some of the symptoms linked with a UCL injury:

  • The inside of the elbow is throbbing with pain. There is a feeling of looseness or instability in the elbow. Irritation of the “funny bone” (ulnar nerve) is a common complaint. The little finger and ring finger experience tingling or numbness as a result of this. Reduced ability to throw a baseball or other item with accuracy

Only in rare cases may UCL injuries prevent you from participating in non-throwing activities such as:

  • Exercise, weightlifting, baseball batting, and jogging are all examples of activities of everyday living.

Diagnosis of UCL Injuries

A clinician may be able to identify a UCL damage based only on the patient’s medical history and physical examination. Among the diagnostic procedures that may be performed are:

  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • MRI after gadolinium dye has been injected into the elbow

However, because such tests are not 100 percent reliable, it might be difficult to determine whether or not a UCL damage has occurred.

Candidates for Tommy John Surgery

Conservative (non-surgical) therapy are typically used to treat UCL injuries in the beginning. These treatments are as follows:

  • Rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) are all recommended.

Patients are subsequently usually subjected to physical treatment. This helps to strengthen the muscles around the affected UCL, which helps to compensate for the injury. Some athletes, on the other hand, may be candidates for immediate surgery. Tommy John surgery is most typically advised for athletes who meet the following criteria:

  • Non-surgical therapies have had no effect on them. I’m interested in returning to vigorous overhead or throwing activity

What Happens During Tommy John Surgery

During Tommy John surgery, a tendon is harvested from a patient’s body, often from one of the following locations:

  • Wrist, forearm, toe, hamstring (thigh), hip, knee, and foot (Achilles tendon) are all examples of joints that can be injured.

Occasionally, surgeons will use a tendon that has been given from the body of a deceased person. Tunnels are created in the ulna and humerus by surgeons. It is necessary to pass the tendon (also known as a “graft”) through the tunnels. It is then weaved into a figure-eight design in order to rebuild the ligament that was damaged. Any remaining fragments of the original ligament are connected to the tendon in order to give the graft more strength. Depending on the procedure utilized, complications might occur in anywhere between 5 percent and 20 percent of patients.

The most common problem is injury to the ulnar nerve, which is the longest nerve in the body. Infection and hemorrhage are two more possible risks. A problem may necessitate extra surgery in rare cases.

Tommy John Surgery Rehabilitation

The recovery period following Tommy John surgery is generally around a year long. For athletes to recover to their prior levels of performance, it may take up to two years. Other forms of UCL surgery may not need so extensive post-operative rehabilitation. The patient’s doctor and physical therapist should keep a careful eye on him or her during the rehabilitation process. Some rehabilitation programs follow a three-phase procedure, which includes the following steps: Phase I. The initial phase of the project.

  • Wear a splint for seven to ten days to keep the elbow immobilized. Gently stretch and strengthen your wrist, hand, and shoulder range of motion exercises. Wear a range-of-motion brace to help you progressively restore complete range of motion in your elbow. Exercises to strengthen the arm and shoulders should be performed. Exercises for total-body conditioning should be done.
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The second phase. Beginning around 6 weeks following surgery:

  • The majority of patients are able to begin performing elbow-strengthening activities. Patients should avoid activities that place undue stress on the graft for at least four months following the procedure.

Phase III.During the third phase of rehabilitation, patients often follow the following stages with the agreement of their surgeon:

  • Athletes may be able to throw a ball without using a wind-up motion 4 to 5 months after having surgery. The usage of a simple wind-up during throwing can be introduced after 6 months of training
  • Baseball pitchers are permitted to return to the mound after seven months. Once they are pain-free and have recovered their normal strength and range of motion, pitchers can return to competitive action after nine months of rest.

By 1974, when surgeon Frank Jobe, M.D. completed the first UCL repair on Tommy John, a ripped UCL tear was widely regarded to be a game-ending injury for the vast majority of baseball players. Fortunately, up to 85 percent of individuals who receive this procedure are able to return to their prior level of competition, if not higher.

Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction – Wikipedia

Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction
Other names UCL reconstruction, Tommy John surgery (TJS)
ICD-9-CM 81.85

Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery (TJS), is a surgical graft procedure in which theulnar collateral ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with either a tendon from another part of the patient’s body or a tendon from a deceased donor during a surgical graft procedure. It is typical among undergraduate and professional players in a variety of sports, notably baseball, to have this surgery. It was invented in 1974 by orthopedic surgeon Frank Jobe, who worked as a team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1974 until his death in 2014.

Tommy John, a major league pitcher who has 288 career victories to his credit, was the first baseball player to have the procedure.

This documentary, which follows the two men’s original procedure, John’s successful post-surgery career, and their personal friendship, was broadcast on ESPN30 for 30 in 2013.


The throwing action can cause theulnar collateral ligament (UCL) to become strained, frayed, or ripped due to the constant stress on the ligament. In throwing athletes, particularly those who throw hard, the danger of UCL damage is exceedingly significant, since the amount of stress that passes through this structure approaches its ultimate tensile strength during a powerful throw. This ailment is most commonly linked with baseball, although it can occur in other sports as well. Baseball players, as compared to athletes who participate in other sports, are at a greater than average risk of overuse injuries and injuries induced by early sports specialization in children and teens than the general population.

  • A one-year research conducted in 2002 studied the throwing volume, pitch type, and throwing mechanics of 426 pitchers ranging in age from 9 to 14 years old.
  • A lesser effect was seen in the types of pitches thrown; throwing a sliderwas connected with an 86 percent increased probability of elbow damage, while throwing a curveballwas linked to a greater likelihood of discomfort.
  • However, because there are so many different successful types of pitching, it may be difficult to define and establish what constitutes “incorrect” throwing mechanics.
  • UCL injuries are thought to be caused mostly by this repetitive “reaching back” motion, which causes the ligament to be stretched in an unusual manner and direction, according to research.
  • Recent research into the subject of throwing injuries in young athletes has resulted in suggestions for pitch restrictions for young athletes based on their age group.
  • The stress applied to the inside of the elbow while throwing is more likely to induce the elbow to fail at this location than it is to cause the elbow to fail at the ulnar collateral ligament in younger athletes whose epiphyseal plate (growth plate) is still open.
  • In recent years, pitchers are increasingly likely to require a second treatment after resuming their pitching careers; the spans 2001–2012 and 2013–2015 each had eighteen Major League pitchers have the procedure a second time during those eras.

Currently, the average duration between treatments is 4.97 years, according to data from April 2015.


There is a possibility of injury to the ulnar nerve.


After undergoing ulnar collateral ligament restoration, some baseball pitchers claim they are able to throw harder than they were previously. Following as a result, orthopedic doctors have stated that parents of young pitchers have contacted them and urged them to undergo the treatment on their kids who are not wounded in the hopes that this will improve their sons’ performance on the field. Although many individuals, like Frank Jobe, think that any post-surgical improvements in performance are most likely owing to the greater stability of the elbow joint and pitchers’ increased attention to their health and conditioning, this is not necessarily the case.


A 3–4-inch surgical incision is created near the elbow to perform the procedure. In order to accept a replacementgrafttendon, holes are bored into the ulna and humerus bones of the elbow joint. Afterwards, a harvested tendon, such as thepalmaris tendon from either the same or opposite elbow’s forearm, thepatellar tendon, the hamstring, the toeextensor, or a donor tendon (allograft), is braided in a figure-eight pattern through the perforations and secured. It is common practice to reposition the ulnar nerve in order to alleviate discomfort caused by scar tissue pressing against the nerve.

For the first week following the procedure, the arm is placed in an arm splint to safeguard the repair.


If you have an acute UCL avulsion type injury at either the proximal or distal end, repair may be a feasible option for you. The major advantage of this treatment over UCL reconstruction is that it requires less recovery time. Early attempts at UCL repair were unsuccessful, and the procedure was generally abandoned until improvements in anchor fixation were made in 2008.


The post-reconstruction surgery rehabilitation procedure is often divided into four parts, each of which is described below.

  1. The goal of the first phase of rehabilitation (postoperative weeks zero to three) is to avoid stiffness, promote healing, and preserve the repaired graft at the same time using a hinged elbow brace. The objectives of phase 2 (weeks four through eight) are to increase strength and achieve complete range of motion. Recovery efforts are mostly concentrated on flexibility and neuromuscular control throughout phase 3 (weeks nine to thirteen). In this period, there is a development toward participation in sports-related activities. For overhead athletes, the transition to a throwing program occurs during phase 4 (weeks 14 to 26)
  2. For other athletes, the transition occurs during phase 5.

Pitchers are typically ready to return to the game after seven to nine months of full competition pitching, and they are ready to return to the game after ten to eighteen months.


Over the previous two decades, the number of UCLR procedures has more than tripled, with the incidence of the procedure projected to continue to climb in the future years. Boys and girls aged 15 to 19 were found to have had more surgical operations than any other age group, with the rate of surgeries conducted on 15 to 19 year olds growing by 9 percent every year, according to a study of youngsters who had had UCLR surgery. Baseball in the United States, Major League Baseball, and Young pitchers in Little League Baseball are being encouraged to participate in the Pitch Smart program, which is meant to reduce the risk of elbow injuries in young pitchers.

In overhand throwing, the most important risk factors for elbow injury are the number of pitches thrown every game, the number of innings pitched per season, the number of months pitched per year, and poor pitching mechanics, which can increase torque and strain on the elbow.


In 2008, Tommy John, for whom the operation is named, died. Jobe estimated that the odds of John’s procedure being successful were one in a hundred at the time of the operation. In 2009, the likelihood of a full recovery has increased to 85–92 percent. Following his 1974 surgery, John was out for the whole 1975 season while he recovered from his arm injury before returning for the 1976 campaign. Prior to his operation, John had amassed a 124-game winning streak. After surgery, he went on to win 164 games until retiring in 1989 at the age of 46.

Players often begin throwing 16 weeks following surgery, if not before.


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  2. Feeley BT, Agel J, LaPrade RF, Agel J, LaPrade RF (January 2016). “When is it too early to specialize on a single sport?” asks the author. 234–41. doi: 10.1177/0363546515576899.PMID25825379.S2CID15742871
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  12. Keri J. (September 13, 2007). The following is an excerpt from “Interview with Dr. Frank Jobe.” ESPN.com. On October 13, 2008, the following URL was retrieved: abcdeKhalfayan EE, MD, Surgeon (2016). Tommy John surgery and UCL reconstruction (graphic surgical video)”. Orthopedic Physician Associates, Seattle, WA. Tommy John surgery and UCL reconstruction (graphic surgical video). CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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Tommy John Surgery Overview

Toulnar collateral ligation (UCL) injuries are frequent among competitive throwers who compete in a variety of sports. Baseball players, in particular, are at risk of tearing their anterior cruciate ligament. Historically, such rips were considered to be career-ending injuries. It is possible for most athletes to return to their previous level of performance after undergoing Tommy John surgery, which was named after the first baseball player to have the operation, Thomas (“Tommy”) Edward John Jr.

What is Tommy John surgery?

Tommy John surgery is a procedure in which the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the elbow is reconstructed. A high-grade UCL injury in an overhead throwing athlete is the most typical reason for this procedure to be carried out on them. It is necessary to repair the injured ligament with a tendon transplant from the patient’s forearm or hamstring muscle. This results in the formation of a new, robust ligament that can allow for a complete return to throwing.

How do I know if I tore a ligament in my elbow?

When throwing, most athletes will suffer pain on the inner (medial) region of their elbow, as well as a decrease in velocity and accuracy. When throwing, this discomfort is nearly often felt during the “layback” or “late cocking” phases of the motion. Others have slowly deteriorating discomfort and loss of velocity after throwing a single pitch, while others experience an instantaneous halt in their throwing ability after throwing a single pitch. Players will complain of being unable to throw as hard and as far as they used to.

Who is a good candidate for Tommy John surgery?

Tommy John surgery is an excellent option for any healthy, overhead-throwing athlete who has had a high-grade damage to the UCL of the elbow and desires to return to competition.

How does Tommy John surgery work?

The first step in Tommy John surgery is the harvesting of the tendon that will be used to create the new ligament. This is derived from either an additional tendon in the patient’s forearm or from one of the hamstring tendons, depending on the situation. The damaged ligament is then identified and repaired. Drill holes are then made in the forearm bone (ulna) and the arm bone (humerus), which are the locations where the UCL ordinarily joins to the arm bone. To construct a figure-8 graft, the graft is sutured and threaded through the holes created by the sutures.

The implantation of the tendon graft is shown in this illustration.

Additionally, depending on the patient’s symptoms, other operations may be carried out at the same time as Tommy John surgery in some cases. These procedures might involve arthroscopy of the elbow to remove bone spurs or decompression of the ulnar nerve.

How long does Tommy John surgery take?

Tommy John surgery is usually completed in 45 minutes or less, depending on the circumstances. When there are other injuries that need to be addressed at the same time as the surgery, the recovery time can be extended. The surgeon will make this determination after reviewing the patient’s medical history and performing a physical examination.

What are the potential risks of Tommy John surgery?

Fortunately, the dangers associated with Tommy John surgery are quite minimal, however there are a few key ones to keep in mind. The ulnar nerve is located in close proximity to the surgery site. It is kept safe at all times, yet there is a minimal possibility of nerve damage occurring. Aside from infection, other dangers of surgery include fracture of the bone, numbness around the incision site, and potential harm to the newly repaired ligament.

How long until you can return to sports after Tommy John surgery?

The athlete’s ability to return to competition is heavily influenced by the sport in which he or she competes and the position in which he or she competes. The majority of athletes begin a throwing program within five months after undergoing surgery. Pitchers in baseball should expect to regain their full pitching capacity between 12 and 15 months following surgery, however it may take longer in rare cases. In most cases, position players may return to competition sooner than other athletes, usually 9 to 12 months following surgery.

What is the success rate of Tommy John surgery?

Tommy John surgery is quite dependable, with a success rate of more than 90% in most cases. Dr. David Altchek created the docking approach for Tommy John surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and this procedure has shown to be a powerful and dependable means of assisting athletes in their return to competition.

Do you throw faster after Tommy John surgery?

After having Tommy John surgery, some athletes report being able to throw harder. This is frequently attributed to the physical therapy that the athlete had to strengthen his or her arm, as well as the fact that the athlete now has a strong ligament that allows him or her to throw with full effort and without experiencing discomfort.

Can you strengthen your UCL?

New research reveals that throwing and exercise can cause the ulnar collateral ligament to thicken, which is consistent with previous findings. We are still discovering the proper combination of training and rest that will allow for optimal UCL strength to be achieved.

Can you heal your UCL without surgery?

Some UCL injuries can be treated conservatively, meaning they do not require surgery. How severe the damage is and where it occurs are important factors to consider. Those who suffer from low-grade injuries to the proximal UCL are most likely to recover without the need for surgery. High-grade injuries, as well as damage to the distal UCL, have a lower chance of healing on their own. A specialist who specializes in the management of UCL injuries will be able to establish an effective treatment plan for you.

Back in the Game patient stories

Tommy John surgery, also known asulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (or UCL reconstruction), is a surgical procedure in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from another part of the body (often from the forearm, hamstring, or foot of the patient). It was invented in 1974 by Dr. Frank Jobein, who performed it on pitcher Tommy John, in whose honor the operation is called. It is caused by repetitive usage of the elbow while performing forceful movements such as throwing a baseball, which causes the injury.

  1. During most of the twentieth century, a ruptured elbow ligament was the most prevalent cause of what was simply known as “dead arm injury.” Jobe estimated that John’s chances of returning to the mound were one in a hundred at the time of the first procedure.
  2. He would continue to pitch in the major leagues until 1989, when he was 46 years old.
  3. Pitchers should expect to be out for 12 to 15 months, while position players might expect to be out for 6 to 8 months.
  4. Every year throughout the 2000s, a total of 16 big league pitchers were subjected to the treatment on average.
  5. Despite the fact that the procedure has become regular by the 2020s, it still has significant risks, as do any surgical procedures.
  6. By that time, the procedure had become so ubiquitous that it was customary for college and high school pitchers to have the procedure before going professional.
  7. While surgery can induce this, it is more often caused by the intensive rehabilitation that occurs after surgery than by the procedure in and of itself.
  8. Drs.
  9. Masaharu Mitsui was the first pitcher in the history of the Nippon Professional Baseball League to undergo the procedure, doing it in 1979.
  10. It was in 2000 that he had the surgery, which resulted in him missing the whole season.

The term was officially accepted into the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2019, indicating that the procedure was no longer exclusive to baseball enthusiasts.

Tommy John Surgery Patients

  • A number of times, Chad Fox
  • Three times, Jason Isringhausen
  • Three times, Josh Johnson
  • Three times, Jarrod Parker
  • Five times, José Rijo
  • Three times, Jonny Venters
  • And numerous times, Scott Williamson.

Selected Non-Pitchers

  • The following players were injured: Roberto Alomar, Rocco Baldelli, Jay Buhner, José Canseco (who was hurt while pitching), Shin-Soo Choo, Trace Coquillette, Carl Crawford, Ben Davis, Rafael Furcal, Craig Gentry, Luis Gonzalez, Rusty Greer, José Guillén
  • Brad Hawpe
  • J.R. House
  • Todd Hundley
  • César Izturis
  • Trey Lunsford
  • Kelly Johnson

Further Reading

  • According to Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports, “the most dreaded term in baseball is finally being added to the dictionary,” which was published on April 24, 2019. Dirk Hayhurst, “Hard Truths: MLB Needs a Priority Shift,” Sports on Earth, May 15, 2014
  • Dirk Hayhurst, “Hard Truths: MLB Needs a Priority Shift,” Sports on Earth, May 15, 2014. “John Smoltz is concerned that he may be the final Tommy John pitcher in the Hall of Fame,” USA Today Sports, July 8, 2015
  • Bob Nightengale: “Tommy John surgery is now ‘an epidemic,'” according to Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today Sports on April 11, 2014. On May 29, 2014, Jorge L. Ortiz wrote, “Tommy John’s solution? Pitch less, young guy,” in USA Today Sports. “Tommy John 2015: Two-time victims have a better prognosis,” USA Today Sports, March 1, 2015. Jorge L. Ortiz: “Tommy John 2015: Two-time victims have a better outlook,” USA Today Sports, March 1, 2015. The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 2016. ISBN 9780062400369
  • The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 2016.
  • Tommy John surgery: a pitcher’s best buddy
  • Tommy John Surgery: A Look Inside

The Tommy John Surgery Explosion in the MLB

Originally published on March 29, 2018. Tommy John was a professional pitcher who competed in the United States from 1963 until 1989. While he had a distinguished professional career, he is most recognized for the procedure that bears his name. He was the first player in the league to have ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) surgery performed on him. Dr. Frank Jobe was the surgeon who carried out the operation in 1974. Many people’s careers had been destroyed by a UCL rupture prior to that initial operation.

Following his operation, he went on to throw in the Major League Baseball (MLB) for another 14 years.

The procedure is now recognized as Tommy John surgery.

See also:  When Was The Baseball Bat Invented

Growing in Number

The number of pitchers in the Major League Baseball who require Tommy John surgery is increasing at an alarming rate. Between 1974 and 1994, a total of 12 Major League Baseball players underwent the operation. Following then, there was a significant increase in the number of procedures. In the next five years (1995-1999), about 22 Tommy John procedures were done on Major League Baseball players. Between 2000 and 2011, a total of 194 operations were done on MLB players alone throughout the following 12 years.

In 2012, 36 Tommy John operations were performed on Major League Baseball players.

In 2014, however, there were 19 procedures completed before the end of May.

It is also more common than typical for UCL injuries to occur, with “the average number of pitchers requiring surgery before Opening Day from 2000-2013 being only 2.” During the 2014 season, there were seven prior to Opening Day and another four inside the first nine days of play” (Stark, 2014).


According to current research, there are at least two factors contributing to the increase in UCL injuries. First and foremost, youth sports are extremely important. Children are no longer participating in as many different sports as they formerly did. In the past, children would participate in baseball, football, basketball, and any other activities that they were able to participate in. Nowadays, children specialize on a certain sport. For children who specialize in baseball, this implies that they are more likely to pitch year-round and never take a vacation from the sport, which can be harmful to their arm.

  1. If a player continues to do this year after year, it causes an excessive amount of stress on the arm, resulting in damage.
  2. At one point in time, it was quite uncommon to see someone regularly throw in the upper 90s or attain speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
  3. Furthermore, there are a few of players that are capable of scoring in the triple digits.
  4. These powerful throwers also don’t always have the most efficient throwing technique.
  5. Whenever a player throws at a fast rate of speed, it just puts additional strain on the arm.

Pitchers with an average fastball speed of more than 96 mph have been on the mound since 2003, according to data dating back to 2003. In 2014, over 5% of pitchers threw a fastball that averaged above 96 mph on a weekly basis.


UCL rips have become a regular ailment among baseball players, particularly among pitchers in the Major Leagues. Every year, a greater number of pitchers are forced to have Tommy John surgery. Every year, the players grow in size, strength, and ability to compete. However, with increased strength comes an increased danger of injury, necessitating the need to take additional preventative measures on a more frequent basis. References C. Langager et al (2015, March 3). Tommy John Surgery Facts and Figures.

Is Tommy John surgery considered a “epidemic”?


Obtainable on December 12, 2017, via

What is Tommy John surgery?

While ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction is the official term for the technique, many sports enthusiasts refer to it as “Tommy John surgery” because of the way it is performed. The treatment was named after a Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher who had an elbow injury in 1974 and underwent surgery. In order to be able to continue playing, he consented to be the test subject for a surgical treatment that was being tested. Doctor Frank Jobe, a legendary surgeon, successfully conducted the treatment, and Tommy John was back on the mound less than two years after the procedure.

Hundreds of baseball players, ranging from high school ball players to those in the professional leagues, have undergone the procedure.

Despite the fact that it is a well-known operation, many people are unaware of the specifics.

What is Tommy John surgery?

Tommy John surgery, in its most basic definition, is a treatment for an overuse injury or “dead arm.” Tommy John surgery is performed by an orthopedic surgeon to repair the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), which links the humerus to the ulna and stabilizes the elbow joint during the procedure. After frequent misuse, such as while pitching a baseball, the ligament is more prone to tearing. The surgeon drills holes into the humerus and ulna, and then weaves a new tendon through the holes to support the elbow.

When is Tommy John surgery necessary?

When a patient rips their UCL as a consequence of overuse, an orthopedic surgeon may propose Tommy John surgery if the patient intends to return to the activity that caused the rupture. Surgery, on the other hand, is not always required. Rest, ice, ceasing the movement that caused the injury, and rehabilitation are all options to consider as well.

What does Tommy John surgery involve?

Tommie John surgery, in its most basic form, entails extracting a tendon from the patient’s body (or from a donor) and connecting it to the patient’s knee to function as the replacement UCL.

The harvested tendon, also known as a graft, can be obtained from a variety of tendons across the body. Tommy John surgery is often performed as an outpatient operation under under anaesthetic and takes 60-90 minutes.

What risks and complications are involved?

Infection and anesthesia-related complications are concerns associated with the majority of surgical procedures. Additionally, nerve or blood vessel injury, graft strain or rupture, and ulnar nerve irritation are all possible consequences of the procedure.

How long does it take to recover from Tommy John surgery?

Athletes often require a minimum of 9 months to a year to recover to their previous levels of performance after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Recovery entails a period of recovery during which the elbow is braced, followed by thorough physical therapy and rehabilitation to restore function. It is estimated that most patients regain their normal range of motion in the elbow within two to four months of having surgery, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

What is the success rate of Tommy John surgery?

According to the Boston Children’s Hospital, the success rate for Tommy John surgery ranges from 80 to 90 percent. Similar to this, the American Journal of Sports Medicine did a research on a total of 179 pitchers who had undergone Tommy John surgery in the last year. According to the findings of the study, 148 pitchers (83 percent) were able to return to pitching (RTP) in the Major League Baseball, 174 pitchers were able to RTP in the Major League Baseball and minor league combined (97.2 percent), and only 5 pitchers (2.8 percent) were unable to RTP to either the Major League Baseball or the minor league.

In addition to serving the municipalities of Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance, we also service the surrounding areas.

What Exactly is Tommy John’s Surgery?

“Can you tell me about Tommy Johns surgery?” —it’s a reasonable question. The majority of individuals have heard of the surgery, but many are unsure of the sort of damage that it addresses. Alternatively, where the name originates. We’ve taken this into consideration when writing this content. Everything you need to know about Tommy John surgery is outlined below: Anatomy of the Elbow in Relationship The elbow is made up of three bones: the humerus, the radius, and the ulna. Ligaments on the inside and outside of the elbow join the three bones together, preventing them from moving.

  • This ligament, known as the ulnar collateral ligament, is particularly vulnerable to damage.
  • The severity of the damage might range from an irritated and inflamed ligament to a fully torn ligament.
  • The latter, on the other hand, necessitates the use of surgical procedures.
  • A UCL repair was performed for the first time in 1974.
  • When the UCL is ripped, it is removed and replaced with a ligament graft, which is generally a tendon from the patient’s own body, during the treatment.
  • Illustration2– A repair to the UCL Recovery and Observed Results Recovering after Tommy John surgery can take anywhere between 6 and 8 months, depending on how well the patient responds to the new ligament graft and physical therapy regimen.
  • Please keep in mind that the injuries will not prevent you from continuing your job.
  • Please contact us and we’ll schedule you an appointment as soon as possible.
  • In addition to being a known elbow expert, Dr.

A number of clinical studies on shoulder and elbow injuries in overhand athletes have been published by him, such as “Loss of Total Arc of Motion in Collegiate Baseball Players” and “Shoulder Pain and the Overhand Athlete.” Using a variety of treatment methods ranging from physical therapy to arthroscopic surgery, Dr.

In the event that you are having shoulder discomfort or any other type of muscle or joint injury, please contact us immediately to book an appointment at one of our six sites on Long Island, Manhattan, or the Bronx.

A History and Overview of Tommy John Surgery

Dr. Ben Zellner, Orthopedic Hand-to-Shoulder Specialist, provides the following commentary. Fastballing at 90 miles per hour is no small feat for a professional baseball pitcher in the major leagues. Furthermore, throwing the fastball, or any other pitch, can be taxing on the body at times. Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) injury can occur as a result of the repeated motions. A ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (UCL) was long considered a career-ending injury in baseball. It was referred to as the “dead arm.” Everything changed, however, when a Major League Baseball pitcher by the name of Tommy John, who was at the time playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, suffered from what was known as “dead arm.” Tommy John had a torn anterior cruciate ligament (UCL) in the middle of the 1974 season (when the team was 13–3).

  1. According to Dr.
  2. During his research, Dr.
  3. The next year, after a year of therapy, Tommy John was back in the game, and he went on to win 164 games in his second season after the operation.
  4. It is a joint that links the upper arm bone to a joint in the forearm.
  5. Athletes that throw often, such as baseball pitchers, are at risk for UCL injuries because of the repetitive throwing actions, which twist and bend the elbow.
  6. This type of damage can occur to anyone at any time.
  7. UCL injuries may start off minor, but they have the potential to become severe.
  8. Pain on the inside side of the elbow is a frequent sign of this condition.
  9. Other signs and symptoms include:
  • An increase in swelling and bruising at the location of the injury, which is usually on the inner elbow and upper forearm Loss of ball control and inability to throw at maximum pace
  • The inability to straighten the elbow due to stiffness of the elbow
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the ring and pinky fingers or in the entire hand
  • Clumsiness and a lack of strength in the grip of the hand

The Tommy John Procedure

Tommy John surgery, also known as UCL reconstruction, is a procedure in which a tendon from another part of the body is used to replace the ligament within the elbow. The tendon works as a new ligament, which helps to support the elbow while also reducing or eliminating discomfort and increasing range of motion. A graft is the term used to describe the tendon that has been replaced.

It can be collected from a variety of different regions of the body or from a donor, although it is most commonly obtained from a forearm tendon in patients. Any remaining fragments of the original ligament are connected to the tendon in order to give the graft more strength.

After Tommy John Surgery

Complete rehabilitation usually takes about a year. In certain circumstances, up to two years are needed for athletes to recover to their prior level of competence. Years have passed since an athlete’s career was ended by a torn UCL, which is a good thing. Up to 85 percent of those who undergo the Tommy John surgery are able to resume their sport at, or even above, their previous level of competition. If you are suffering discomfort in your elbow, hand or arm, please arrange an appointment for assessment.


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