Dr. Frank Petrigliano Discusses Tommy John Surgery with SB Nation
Today’s MLB athletes play harder than ever, their bodies more explosive and precisely calibrated than those of any prior generation. With these gains in athleticism come heightened and more diverse injury risks. This past season, two former MVP frontrunners were sidelined with bizarre ailments. Mike Trout, at 27, developed painful Morton’s Neuroma. Christian Yelich fouled a ball so hard off his patella that it fractured. Thankfully, both should be prepared for the start of next season.
Not all injuries have simple recoveries. For as long as the sport has existed, athletes have been tearing the ulnar collateral ligaments in their elbows. The injury was codified under “dead arm” for most of the sport’s history until Dr. Frank Jobe performed a revolutionary reconstruction surgery in 1974. Jobe took a ligament from the non-pitching arm of all-star Tommy John and wove it through bone tunnels drilled in the elbow in a figure-eight fashion. The procedure extended the starter’s career by 14 years and 164 wins.
Other techniques now exist to treat UCL injuries, but none is known to be more effective than the “Jobe technique.” Still, despite the career-lengthening miracle of Tommy John surgery, recovery for pitchers is usually a process of at least a year.