Vail, Colorado orthopedic knee surgeon, Dr. Robert F. LaPrade, offers advice and insight for Lets Play Hockey. This comprehensive newspaper focuses on all things hockey and provides in-depth coverage of all levels of the sport including youth, high school, college, and professional.
Dr. LaPrade serves as the “Hockey Doc” for this popular site and offers advice on all areas of orthopedic surgery and sports related joint injuries. He recently discussed MCL injuries of the elbow. An MCL injury of the elbow is a ligament tear on the inside of the joint that in a hockey player is usually caused by a traumatic event (such as a hard fall on the ice or a direct hit against the wall).
In this special column, he stated “Injuries to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) of the elbow are more common in overhead throwing sports, but can occur due to injuries in hockey. MCL injuries can range from a mild strain (such as a partial tear) to full ruptures of the ligament that cause joint instability. Symptoms include pain at the inside of the elbow that is worse with use and possibly swelling or bruising.”
He offered treatment advice that ranged from conservative measures, to orthopedic surgery, including: “Immediate treatment of an MCL injury should include rest and ice, as well as anti-inflammatory medication, as needed. Gentle stretching and strengthening can be incorporated into treatment as long as it is does not cause sharp joint pain.”
Regarding surgical repair for an MCL injury in hockey players, he stated, “Even with complete rupture of the MCL that causes joint laxity, conservative treatment without surgical repair is usually preferred in ice hockey because recovery from surgery requires immobilization that causes stiffness and makes returning to previous level of function difficult. MCL reconstruction, or “Tommy John surgery,” is usually reserved for baseball pitchers who have failed conservative management and are willing to participate in a very lengthy rehabilitation.”
To see the full article in its entirety, please see: The Hockey Doc, MCL Injuries of the Elbow