How Is a UCL Injury Diagnosed?

After the initial review of the medical history of the patient and a physical exam, multiple tests and exams will be ordered to determine how severe the ulnar collateral ligament injury is. Often, diagnosing this kind of injury is more difficult and challenging than the treatment per se. They are usually diagnosed by a sports medicine expert or orthopedic surgeon. These tests and exams include the following:

  • valgus stress test: during it, the physician tests the elbow for instability
  • MRI scan: using large magnets and radio waves, this imaging test provides the surgeon and physician with clear, detailed images from the inside of the elbow
  • X-rays: they are used to see the changes in the ulnar collateral ligament stemming from the injury, although they are less accurate than MRI scans

While MRI scans typically show a UCL tear, they may not be 100% accurate. For this reason, injecting a special dye into the elbow joint before the MRI will increase the accuracy of the test.