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Shoulder Torn Labrum


If you’re noticing significant pain and instability in your shoulder joint, you could be dealing with a labral tear. The labrum is a thick piece of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder joint. Everything from a bad fall to repetitive overhead movements can lead to a torn labrum. Here’s how our orthopedic team can help you get back on track after a labral tear.

Do I need surgery?

As with most injuries, the first question we hear is, “Do I need surgery?” While not all labral tears will require surgery, it is important to recognize when surgery may be beneficial to the health and function of your shoulder. This is something that our orthopedic team can happily discuss with you during your evaluation.

There are several factors that we will need to look at before determining whether or not you may require surgery to repair the labral tear. The two main factors that we will need to consider include the severity of the injury and the level, intensity and type of physical activities you’re involved in. For example, gymnasts and baseball players will need full use of their shoulders and will benefit from surgery if they wish to return.

What does a labral tear feel like?

If you have a shoulder labral tear you may notice,

  • Shoulder pain
  • Weakness
  • A popping or clinking sound when moving the shoulder
  • Feeling as if your shoulder may pop out of place

Any of these symptoms are worth having an orthopedist investigate further. Of course, if the tear is small you may not even experience symptoms. Of course, over time you may start to notice pain, weakness or a popping sound as the tear gets worse.

Can physical therapy help?

In some cases, physical therapy may benefit those with shoulder labral tears. This is often the case if the tear is minor and doesn’t cause instability of the shoulder. Our orthopedic team can easily go through a variety of physical therapy exercises that help to improve and prevent muscle imbalances while also strengthening the muscles of the shoulder to take the pressure off the torn labrum.

What should I expect from surgery?

If you have a severe tear or a labral tear that isn’t responding to nonsurgical care, then our orthopedic team may recommend surgery to reattach the torn labrum. The location and the size of the tear will dictate the type of repair we perform. With more minor tears, the area is trimmed away while in other cases the labrum will need to be reattached. Once the surgery is complete, it takes about 4-6 weeks for the labrum to reattach to the bone and an additional 4-6 weeks for it to fully stabilize. During this time physical therapy may be prescribed.

If you are dealing with symptoms of a labral tear it’s important to see a qualified orthopedist to determine the best course of action. Call Samimi Orthopaedic Group at (310) 606-2156 or (626) 338-7391 to schedule an evaluation.

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