When Does My Labral Tear Require Surgery?

When Does My Labral Tear Require Surgery?

Your shoulders have a lot of moving parts, and because of this, many things can go wrong. One common injury is a labral tear. This injury can cause pain, decreased range of motion, shoulder instability, and a number of other symptoms.

Robert Douglas Bostick III, MD, of Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Metairie, Louisiana, is an expert in treating labral tears. In this blog, he explains what labral tears are, what their symptoms can be, and when surgery may be required to fix the condition.

What is your labrum?

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that's composed of your upper arm bone (humerus), your collarbone (clavicle), and your shoulder blade (scapula). Your humerus rests in a shallow socket called the glenoid.

The head of your humerus is much bigger than the socket, which is where your labrum comes into play. Your labrum is a thick, fibrous band of tissue that sits around the shoulder socket and extends out from it. Its purpose is to help hold your arm bone in place and deepen your shoulder socket.

The labrum also helps stabilize your shoulder joint, so you can perform activities without your arm popping out of the socket. If you injure or tear your labrum, this can cause your shoulder to lose stability and can increase your risk for dislocation.

What are the symptoms of a labral tear

Labral tears can vary in severity, and the severity often dictates the symptoms you'll experience. There are a lot of other ligaments and muscles in your shoulder, which can make it hard to determine the specific injury on your own.

If you have shoulder pain, Dr. Bostick evaluates your symptoms to help determine what’s wrong with your shoulder. Symptoms that are associated with a labral tear often include the following:

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should get evaluated as soon as possible. Dr. Bostick uses diagnostic tools, such as MRIs or CT scans, to assess the soft tissues in the shoulder.

When is surgery necessary?

Surgery isn't Dr. Bostick's first treatment choice unless your labral tear is significantly affecting your life or you have extreme instability. Dr. Bostick usually recommends conservative therapies if the labral tear causes discomfort but the shoulder joint is stable.

Conservative therapies

For conservative therapies, he may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to ease the inflammation and eliminate your pain. He may also recommend physical therapy to strengthen your shoulder joint and improve your range of motion as your labrum heals. Furthermore, he may recommend massage therapy to ease discomfort.


If your labral injury is severe, or if conservative measures don't work, Dr. Bostick can talk with you about your surgical options. He's usually able to repair labral tears through arthroscopy, which is a minimally invasive surgery. However, if you have a more extensive tear, Dr. Bostick may recommend open surgery.

If you have shoulder pain, Dr. Bostick can help. To learn more, call 504-541-5800 or book an appointment online with Metairie Orthopedics & Sports Medicine today.

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