A shoulder labral tear, also called a glenoid labrum tear, happens when the tissue surrounding the shoulder socket is injured or overused, causing it to tear in certain areas. Arthroscopic surgery is typically recommended for patients with extensive tears or to those who have not experienced relief from conservative therapies. The shoulder joint, which is made up of three bones: the scapula, clavicle, and humerus, is bounded by the labrum. This fibrous tissue keeps the humerus in the socket (glenoid) of the shoulder joint. An acute trauma such as a blow to the shoulder, sudden pull, or fall on an outstretched arm can result in a minor or complete tear of the labrum. These instances, as well as prolonged, repetitive use of the shoulder, can cause extensive damage to the labrum.
Arthroscopic surgery is usually performed on patients who have not experienced pain relief from conservative therapies. During arthroscopic surgery, small incisions are made above the damaged portion of the labrum where an arthroscope (small device with a camera attached) is inserted to provide a visual depiction of the shoulder joint. A saline solution is also injected into the shoulder to expand the joint and improve visualization. Once the camera is in place, the torn flap will be removed or reattached, and our surgeons will correct any other problems associated with the shoulder joint. After the necessary repairs have been made, the surgical instruments will be removed and the incisions will be closed.
Patients will be monitored in a recovery room immediately after shoulder arthroscopy. If the shoulder labral tear was significant, patients may need to spend the night at a hospital for observation. Otherwise, most patients will be sent home from the procedure that same day. Following surgery, the shoulder and arm will be placed in a sling for added protection and comfort. Minimal, daily function may resume within a week, and patients will likely experience full range of motion after several months. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are essential for the proper recovery of a shoulder labral tear. During this recovery phase, patients may be required to perform various exercises to improve strength and mobility in the shoulder. Other treatment modalities may be used to minimize pain and promote tissue regeneration.