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Sports Medicine

UCL rupture/gamekeeper`s thumb



My 11 year old son ruptured his UCL. The radiologist`s report from the MRI states that there is a "tear that is partial OR potentially complete but not displaced. The UCL is torn although it is not significantly retracted or balled up and no discrete evidence of adductor aponeurosis entrapment is identified."

What I`ve read about UCL ruptures states that complete tears need to be repaired surgically. Because it`s not displaced, is the appropriate treatment to cast and immobilize the thumb whether the tear is partial or complete?


If you've not already done so, you really must pose this question to your son's treating orthopedist, who has the necessary advantage of having examined your son. Since the MRI indicates the UCL tear may be partial, if his exam indicates he most likely has a partial tear, his treatment would be nonsurgical (cast or splint 24 hrs/day for 4-6 wks.). A complete UCL tear can be treated nonsurgically if:

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University