Do shoulder labral tears need surgery?


The shoulder labrum is the "O-ring" around the edge of the shoulder socket (the glenoid) that helps deepen the socket and provide stability to the shoulder joint. The most common type of labral tear occurs at the top of the glenoid, where the biceps tendon attaches. Fortunately, this type of labral tear (also called a SLAP tear) will often improve with a anti-inflammatories and a course of physical therapy. A small percentage, usually 10-20%, may require arthroscopic surgery to relieve symptoms.

A second type of labral tear occurs when the shoulder dislocates. This causes a tear in the bottom-front part of the labrum and is called a "Bankart tear." A one-time dislocation with Bankart tear can be treated without surgery, however, if repeat dislocations occur, arthroscopic shoulder stabilization is often necessary.

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