In a small study of gymnasts with ulnar (elbow) collateral ligament injury, orthopedic sports medicine researchers suggest that the athletes can be treated successfully and can return to competition.

A research team from Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia presented the data at the American Orthopedic Medicine Society- Arthroscopy Association of North America Combined 2021 Annual Meeting, according to a media release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

Evaluated Nine Gymnasts

The team, led by first author Taylor D’Amore, MD, followed and evaluated nine gymnasts who underwent non-operative and operative UCL injury treatment. The patients were assessed using a variety of scoring methods, including the Mayo Elbow Performance Score (MEPS), Andrews-Timmerman (A-T) Elbow score, Quick Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (qDASH) score, Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic Shoulder and Elbow Score (KJOC) and a custom return to play survey.

Of the nine patients analyzed, six patients were treated operatively (four UCL reconstructions (UCLR) and two UCL repairs) and three patients were treated non-operatively. One UCLR was performed after 2 months of failed non-operative management. All patients were female with a mean age of 16.1 (range, 12-20) and mean BMI of 24.46 (range 19.2-34.1) at time of surgery or initial visit. Average follow-up was 4.5 years.

Overall, 66.7% of operative versus 100% of non-operative were able to RTP at an average of 7.5 and 7 months, respectively. One re-injury was reported in the non-operative group, which was a re-dislocation of the elbow unrelated to gymnastics and was ultimately treated non-operatively. The mean KJOC, MEPS, A-T and qDASH scores for the operative group were 68.4, 97.5, 90.8 and 1.9 respectively. The mean scores for the non-operative group were 67.4, 71.7, respectively. At final follow-up, the operative group had significantly superior (p < 0.05) MEPS, qDASH, current pain at rest, and SANE scores, the release explains.

“Both operative and non-operative treatments can be offered as successful treatment options for UCL injuries in gymnasts. Gymnast treated surgically did significantly better on multiple patient reported measures. Further investigation is needed to determine the optimal management of UCL injuries in gymnasts.”

— Taylor D’Amore, MD

[Source(s): American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, EurekAlert]

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