Do I need my Labrum Fixed?

The labrum is a dense fibrous tissue which surround the socket (glenoid) of the shoulder joint. It functions to deepen the socket and to help stabilize the ball (humeral head) within it and also serves as an attachment site for several of the stabilizing ligaments of the shoulder joint. The labrum can be injured from a traumatic event such as a shoulder dislocation or sudden forceful pull of the arm, repetitive throwing, or degeneration from normal wear and tear. A torn labrum can be a source pain and catching within the shoulder as well as a cause of recurrent shoulder instability.

Many patients are able to rehabilitate a torn labrum through activity modification and therapy alone. Those who have persistent symptoms which interfere with thier hobbies, work, or activities of daily living may be candidates for surgical repair. Factors which can influence a patient's suitability for repair include age, mechanism of injury, severity and nature of symptoms, location of the tear, and the presence or absence of other associated injuries. It may also depend on the demands that you have on your shoulder and the amount of limitations to your shoulder you are willing to live with. Advanced tests may be warranted in some instances such as an MRI scan or a CT scan to better evaluate the extent of the injury to your shoulder.

Consultation with a specialist can help you to better understand your particular injury and the treatment options available. Below are some factors that favor operative repair versus alternative management.

Factors Favoring Repair

  • Younger age (<40 yo)
  • Traumatic tear (dislocation, forceful pull)
  • Active lifestyle
  • No arthritis
  • Non-smoker

Factors Favoring Alternative Management

  • Older age (>40 yo)
  • Atraumatic tears or chronic wear and tear
  • Concomitant arthritis
  • Sedatary lifestyle
  • Smokers
  • Multiple failed repairs
  • Significant bone loss

Info on Shoulder Instability Surgery