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Labral Repair Surgery

Home Specialties Shoulders Labral Repair Surgery

What Is A Shoulder Labrum?

The shoulder is basically a socket and ball joint that is surrounded by a large ring of soft tissue called the labrum. In simpler terms, think of the shoulder’s labrum like a lip that is around the socket of the shoulder joint. The labrum is critical because it keeps the ball of the shoulder in place. Its purpose is to guide the movement of the shoulder joint and help make the shallow socket deeper to ensure movement is more sustainable.

Previously, doctors did not treat tears in the shoulder since it was thought to be related to joint arthritis. However, doctors have now developed a procedure that repairs tears.

What Are The Symptoms of Labrum / Shoulder Joint Tear?

The shoulder is one of the strongest joints in the body because it allows maximum movement in many directions. One of the first symptoms after a labrum tear is a sharp pop sound from the shoulder with certain movements. This may be followed by mild pain that may last a couple of hours.

Although the amount of pain felt may vary due to severity and the individual, a labral tear can be very painful and greatly impact one’s quality of life. In some instances, people have reported not experiencing pain, but have noticed shoulder instability and looseness. They may describe their shoulder as slipping with certain type of motion and will find it difficult to move their arm back and forth.

What Can Cause Shoulder Joint Tear?

Tears occur as result of trauma such as falling with an outstretched hand. Injury can also be the product of wear & tear on the shoulder. Since the bicep tendon connects the largest muscle in the arm directly to the labrum, athletes are highly susceptible to labral tears.

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What Are The Types Of Labral Tears?

Nontraumatic Labral Tear

This type of labral tear is the result of a weak muscle and an unstable shoulder joint. The loss of support around the labrum causes stress on the joint and makes it prone to looseness which increases candidacy for tearing.

Traumatic Labral Tear

As the name suggests, this injury is usually due to a specific moment of trauma that causes the tear. Weight lifting, athletics, falling and manual labor are all activities that make a person more susceptible to this type of injury.

How Do I Prepare For Labral Repair Surgery?

It’s imperative to prepare adequately for labral repair surgery. You should begin by discussing with your doctor what to expect before, during and after the surgery. Here is a brief outline to begin the conversation:

  • Know the name of the doctor who will be performing the surgery.
  • Notify the provider of your medical history and any previous procedures.
  • Talk to your doctor about dietary restrictions before the procedure.
  • Review and understand your insurance details.
  • Provide copies of any important legal documents.
  • Inquire about the type of anesthesia to be administered.
  • Understand the length of stay expected in the hospital.
  • Inform your doctor of any health problems and allergies to medication you might have.
  • Ensure that the names of your contacts and their phone numbers are updated.
  • Know the name of the doctor who will be performing the surgery.

Always prepare your body for the procedure to help reduce your recovery time and reduce the chances of facing complications from the treatment. Your doctor will most likely tell you to avoid smoking, drinking, restrictive diets, and intense workouts before and after the surgery. You also need to plan for your release so that your recovery at home is fast and comfortable. Always place all the items you will need close by so that you will not have to strain your shoulder to access them. You should not lift your arm higher than the level your surgeon or physical therapist recommends.

What Are The Procedures For Labral Repair?

Non-operative Treatment

This is the most recommended treatment for labral tears. Non-invasive treatment mostly involves increasing the circulation of blood in the shoulder through physical therapy. It is great for the internal impingement where the rotator cuff rubs on the posterior labrum. It helps to change the throwing mechanics, strengthen the muscles that rotate the shoulder, and stretches the posterior capsule, thus reducing injuries. Typically, the physician will prescribe non-steroidal medication to assist in relieving inflammation.

Operative Treatment

Operative treatment becomes ideal when conservative treatment cannot address the severity of the labral tear, pain is unresponsive to medication or when it does not heal correctly. Surgery is used to reattach the torn labrum. An arthroscope is used to evaluate the intensity of the injury and figure out the right treatment procedures.

What Happens During Labral Repair Surgery?

The doctor will use the arthroscope to look at the tear and will place anchors into the bone of the shoulder joint. He will then reattach the labrum with the aid of the arthroscope. There are many different anchors that the doctor may choose to drill into the bone. Stitches will also be used to tie the labrum all the way to the bone and allow it to heal while in the preferred position.

Potential Risks of Labral Repair for the Shoulder

Just as with any surgery, Labral repair also has risks which include:

  • Stiffness
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damaged blood vessels
  • Increase in pain

Recovering From Labral Repair Surgery

Recovery after surgery can be complex and last 3 months to fully heal. During this time, you will not be able to participate in athletics. Often a sling is used to support the shoulder for a couple of weeks post-surgery. A physical therapist is utilized to provide safe exercises that promote return to daily life and gradually build a full recovery.

Orthopedic Specialists

Jeffrey Hessing, MD and Timothy Doerr, MD have a passion for helping others. They have a combined 50 years of orthopedic excellence dedicated to the people of the Boise area. All of our surgeons are board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

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