Late this season, New York Met’s pitcher Matt Harvey went down with what team doctors reported as a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), an injury that happens quite frequently in athletes who perform high velocity, repetitive throwing motions.
The ulnar collateral ligament is the major ligament on the inner aspect of the elbow which connects the humerus to the ulna. When the ulnar collateral ligament becomes ruptured or partially torn, the person or athlete experiences pain in the elbow area, relative joint instability, possible swelling, and weakness. Throwing velocity, coordination, and endurance decrease. A complete tear requires arthroscopically assisted surgery, but lesser degrees can often be treated with rest and rehabilitation.
After receiving a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Harvey has elected to undergo Tommy John UCL reconstructive surgery, which may allow him to take the mound for the Mets next year. Physical therapy focuses on strengthening the flexor –pronator muscle mass which protects the UCL, as well as examining and rehabilitating the entire kinetic chain from the ankles to the wrist, including all aspects of pitch-specific throwing mechanics.