Tommy John was a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team when, in the summer of 1974, an elbow injury made it impossible for him to continue pitching. It was an injury that had ended the careers of many other baseball pitchers until recent advancements changed the odds.
The ligament that Tommy John injured was the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) on the inside of the elbow joint. Athletes with an injury to this ligament experience significant pain and discomfort in the area and also have instability in the elbow joint.
Tommy John surgery, developed by Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974, is a surgical procedure to reconstruct the UCL using a tendon from the forearm. The tendon is used to recreate the damaged ligament and improve the stability of the elbow joint.
Today, Tommy John surgery can be used to extend the careers of many baseball pitchers.