Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury

What is a UCL injury?

The UCL connects the upper arm bone (humerus) to the forearm (ulna). A UCL injury is where the ligament becomes stretched, frayed or torn.


This type of injury can be caused either by slow deterioration from repetitive stress to the elbow or by a sudden rupture (tear). It is common in athletes who throw as part of their sport, for example javelin throwing or tennis.


Pain on the inside of the elbow as well as instability in the joint. There may also be tingling in the ulnar nerve (funny bone) and you may find throwing difficult.


A diagnosis during a medical examination is usually backed up with X-rays and MRI scans to show the extent of the damage.


Non-operative treatment includes rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication (if prescribed by your doctor) alongside physiotherapy.


UCL reconstruction surgery is often recommended for athletes who want to return to throwing sports.