Labral Tear (Shoulder Instability)

A labral tear of the shoulder often results from a dislocation or subluxation of the shoulder joint.  The labrum is like a bumper that goes around the socket of the shoulder.  It provides added stability to the shoulder joint.

When the shoulder has been dislocated or subluxed (partially dislocated), there is excessive pressure on the labrum, causing it to tear.  Patients often feel pain and have limited range of motion of the shoulder following such an injury.  Once the initial pain has resolved, some patients may have recurrent episodes of instability of the shoulder because of the labral tear.

The initial treatment following an instability event of the shoulder often involves rest, anti-inflammatories, and rehabilitation of the shoulder muscles.  If the instability recurs, surgery is often recommended to fix the labrum and restore stability to the shoulder joint.

Surgery to repair the torn labrum is sometimes necessary. The purpose of the surgery is to reattach the torn labrum to the socket of the shoulder. Large labral tears that are the result of trauma generally need to be fixed in surgery. The success rate of this surgery is quite good, with over 90 percent of patients returning to their normal activities without any further dislocations. 


Chronic Shoulder Instability (AAOS)