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Sports Medicine

Non-surgical rehab of UCL tear

06/02/2009

Question:

My 18 year old son tore his UCL on his non-throwing arm. He would like to rehab the arm non-surgically. Again, this is his non-throwing arm. However, he does want to lift weights and train intensively as he plans to play soccer at the college level. Is it possible to reach a reasonably optimal strength level in his left arm without surgery and also play with a brace during the soccer season? Also, is there a high risk to causing more damage in the elbow through intense rehab without the surgery? Lastly, is it naive to think he could try a non-surgical rehab first and then have the surgery later if not satisfied with the non-surgical results?

Answer:

It is reasonable to try non-surgical approaches first and then have surgery later if not satisfied.  He may be able to play with just a brace and find his function and strength good enough for what he wants to do.  Everyone is a little different, so it is hard to predict if conservative management will be good enough or if he will have long term problems.

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Response by:

Tammy S Wadsworth, PT MS OCS Tammy S Wadsworth, PT MS OCS
Sports Medicine Team Member
Clinical Instructor at The School of Allied Medical Professions
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University