Question: I’m a professional MMA fighter, and four weeks ago I dislocated my elbow while wrestling. At the hospital, I went to the orthopedic surgeon said I’m going to need surgery and sent me to a different doctor who specializes in UCL tears. He told me with UCL tears athletes who wrestle and fight don’t need surgery to get back to where they want. He said it’s orthopedic rule not to give surgery because it can heal up on its own. Everywhere I read says with UCL tears you need surgery to get back to competing level. Can you give me your opinion on if UCL tears need surgery or not?
Dr. Foreman- It is very unusual for an elbow dislocation to heal with any residual laxity of the joint. In fact, a much more common problem is that the elbow is somewhat stiff. I would definitely agree that surgery is not necessary for your elbow and would encourage you to start working on getting your motion back. Once the soft tissues have healed after 6-8 weeks then you can start strengthening.
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