Your shoulder joint is a complex combination of structures working together to provide strength, stability, and range of motion for the entire arm. The labrum is a rim of protective cartilage found in the ball and socket joints like the hip and shoulder. The function of the labrum is to provide the stability and support necessary for a full range of motion. Trauma, injury, or overuse can cause a tear in the labrum, leading to pain and instability of the joint.
Although some labral tears can be treated with pain management and physical therapy, most require surgery. This is done using arthroscopic labral repair techniques. The goal of labral repair surgery is to repair a torn labrum using anchors and/or sutures. It is an extremely effective procedure for treating labral tears and restoring movement and shoulder strength.
What Causes a Labrum Tear?
Trauma, injury, and overuse are among the most common causes of torn labrum. This often happens as a result of:
- Falling on an outstretched arm
- A direct blow to the shoulder
- Trying to lift a heavy object
- Repetitive strenuous shoulder motions as seen in baseball pitchers or football quarterbacks
- Heavy weight lifting or training
- Motor vehicle accidents
Signs and Symptoms of a Shoulder Labrum Tear
Signs and symptoms of a torn labrum are very similar to those experienced by patients with any type of severe shoulder injury. This is why diagnostic imaging including x-rays and MRI’s are extremely useful in the diagnosis of a torn shoulder labrum. Symptoms you may experience with a shoulder labrum tear include:
- Shoulder pain, usually felt deep in the shoulder
- Catching, locking, popping, or grinding of the shoulder joint
- Pain at night which disrupts your sleep
- Feeling like your shoulder is unstable
- Decreased range of motion
- Loss of strength
Labral Repair Shoulder Surgery
The procedure begins with the patient being anesthesthetized, typically not general anesthesia. During the surgery, Dr. Ahluwalia makes very small incisions around the shoulder that will give him access to the underlying structures of the shoulder. A tiny camera will provide visibility of these structures. After examining the rim and the biceps tendon to determine the stability of the shoulder, Dr. Ahluwalia will repair the injured portion of the labrum. If the tear involves the biceps tendon, Dr. Ahluwalia will need to repair and reattach the tendon using anchors or sutures.
The additional benefit of arthroscopy is that it gives Dr. Ahluwalia the ability to inspect other aspects of the shoulder and assess any associated or residual damage. These associated issues can often be repaired during the same procedure. Although this may make the procedure more extensive, it greatly outweighs the possibility of having to undergo a second procedure.
Recovery After Labral Repair in Beverly Hills
After surgery, the you will be monitored in the surgical recovery room until the affects of the anesthesia have worn off. You will be released to go home the same day. You will need to keep the shoulder in an immobilizing sling for 3 to 4 weeks. Dr. Ahluwalia will also prescribe medications for pain and to prevent infection. A follow up appointment will be scheduled for one to two weeks after the surgery. At this time Dr. Ahluwalia will assess your recovery and discuss physical therapy options to help regain strength and range of motion in the shoulder.
Other Commonly Discussed Recovery Points
You should not use the affected arm to reach for or lift any objects. You should not use it to support your body weight either. Return to work depends on your type of employment and can be discussed at your post-op appointment. Athletes can usually begin doing sport-specific exercises 8 weeks after surgery. Full recovery usually takes 3 to 4 months before the shoulder is fully healed. Physical therapy is an important part of your rehabilitation. We will make every effort to send you to a physical therapy clinic included in your insurance plan.
Contact a Labral Repair Expert
Do you suffer from pain, catching, locking, or feelings of instability in your shoulder? Have you been diagnosed with a torn labrum? Dr. Ahluwalia is a top expert in labral repair surgery. Call today to set up a consultation with Dr. Ahluwalia to see what he can do to lead you on the path to recovery.