Ulnar Collateral Ligament Repair of Finger

The ulnar collateral ligaments are strong band that is attached to the joints of the finger. Injury to this ligament is commonly due to any hard force put on the finger that causes the finger to be bent too far sideways, usually a result of a sports related injury. This force can result in a partial tear of the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) or a complete tear of the UCL, known as a rupture. A tear to the UCL results in instability of the affected joint of the finger becoming very unstable and painful. The most common symptoms associated with UCL injuries are swollen, painful joint, and possible deformity of the finger, as well as bruising. 

Surgery to repair the UCL ligament of the finger involves reattaching the torn ligament, usually with internal sutures. This surgery is performed as an outpatient surgery, meaning you will be able to go home that day. You will be discharge in a temporary splint, that you must ensure is kept clean and dry until you are seen for your follow up appointment in our office, typically the next day. Elevation of your hand on a couple of pillows can alleviate pain and swelling.  

At your first follow up appointment, we will write you a prescription for a splint called a volar splint that will keep your fingers in a neutral position. Commonly the affected finger will be 'buddy' taped to adjacent finger. The splint and buddy tape should be worn at all times, expect when showering. You are able to shower 48 hours after surgery; however, it is important that you do not submerge your surgical incision in water (i.e. no bath tubs, swimming pools, etc.). When showering, it is important you do not use the affected hand. After showering you may pat incision dry and replace the splint and buddy tape.

Sutures will be removed 10-14 days after surgery. After suture removal, you will continue to wear your splint for about 6 weeks, and then only at night for 2 additional weeks. Your follow up appointments will be about every 2 weeks to monitor your recovery. You will typically begin outpatient Occupational therapy at 6 weeks post surgery, after evaluation at your follow up appointment. At 6 weeks a weight restriction of 2lb to affected hand will be put in place, and will gradually increase as OT progresses. 

You may resume your regular diet after surgery; however, you should start slow. It is a good idea to start with things like toast, Jell-O, crackers, and soup to see how your stomach tolerates food after anesthesia. Drink plenty of fluids such as water or Gatorade and limit your intake of sodas, coffee and other caffeinated beverages.  

We will send you home with a prescription for an antibiotic and a pain medication. It is important to take your antibiotic and pain medication with food to prevent nausea (unless you are instructed otherwise). Do not take your pain medication and antibiotic at the same time as this may upset your stomach; separate them by an hour or two. You cannot drive while taking pain medication.

Should you develop any of the following signs and or symptoms of possible infection, call our office immediately:

  1. Fever over 100.3
  2. Chills or night sweats
  3. Unusual swelling, redness, or warmth to your incision site
  4. Purulent drainage from incision site.

Please do not hesitate to call our office with any concerns or questions you may have.

Please remember the above instructions are only a guide. Always listen to the instructions given by your healthcare provider and follow those if in conflict with any listed above.

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