Tommy John Surgery Specialist

David Lintner, MD

Sports Medicine Physicians & Orthopedic Surgeons located in Houston, TX & Baytown, TX

Tommy John surgery, which is ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, treats a common elbow injury in throwing athletes. As the Houston Astros team physician, David Lintner, MD, has performed the most UCL reconstructions in the Houston area. He treats all levels of athletes, from high school to professionals, at two offices in Houston and Baytown, Texas. If you think you may need Tommy John surgery, call the practice or book an appointment online today.

Tommy John Surgery Q&A

What is Tommy John surgery?

Tommy John surgery is a procedure that treats ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears, a common injury in throwing athletes, such as baseball players. The procedure is named after Tommy John, a long-time Major League Baseball pitcher who was the first to undergo UCL reconstruction surgery. 

Why would I need Tommy John surgery?

Tommy John surgery is a treatment for a torn UCL, which is a ligament on the inner side of your elbow. Athletes who participate in throwing sports are most likely to have a UCL injury that requires Tommy John surgery, but people whose jobs or lifestyles put a lot of stress on the elbow may also benefit from this procedure. 

Signs and symptoms of a UCL tear include elbow pain and stiffness, swelling, and a weak hand grip. You may also hear a pop when the ligament tears. 

What does Tommy John surgery entail?

Tommy John surgery involves rebuilding the UCL with a tendon graft from another part of your body, such as the hamstring. Dr. Lintner cleans out the joint by removing damaged tissue and then secures the graft inside your elbow with sutures, anchors, or screws.

In experienced hands like Dr. Lintner’s, this procedure successfully restores the throwing ability of competitive athletes. He uses the most advanced technologies available, including the Arthrex® internal brace and the BioECM® amniotic membrane graft. 

He may also recommend orthobiologic treatments, such as stem cell therapy or platelet-rich plasma (PRP), to facilitate healing. 

What is the recovery like after Tommy John surgery?

Dr. Lintner usually performs Tommy John surgery as an outpatient procedure, so you can go home the same day. After surgery, you begin physical therapy as soon as possible. You may need to wear an elbow brace for about a month while the tissues heal. 

Many people regain their normal range of motion about 2-4 months after Tommy John surgery. Competitive athletes may need a more extensive rehabilitation period before returning to their sport. With diligent stretching and strengthening exercises, most throwing athletes can recover in about 6-9 months.

For the leading provider of Tommy John surgery in the Houston area, call David Lintner, MD, or book an appointment online today.