Labral Tears/Instability

Labral Tears/Instability

Most labral tears occur as a result of a traumatic injury to the shoulder. When the shoulder dislocates during an athletic event or a fall, the labrum and shoulder ligaments are torn.  In young, athletic patients this can lead to long term problems and recurrent shoulder instability.

The ligaments and labrum contribute significantly to the stability of our shoulders. The ligaments are attached to the glenoid labrum, a cartilage disc around the socket of the shoulder.  If you tear the labrum, the ligaments are no longer functioning well.

This is how a labral tear can lead to shoulder dislocations.

A Bankart lesion is caused by a shoulder dislocation and results in an unstable shoulder.

A SLAP lesion is a superior labral tear that is often seen in overhead in athletes.  It may cause popping and clicking in the shoulder.


Shoulder Anatomy


Physical examination of your shoulder will aid in diagnosis.

Xrays are used to look at the bones in the shoulder
MRI scan will be used to look at the ligaments in the shoulder

Normal Labrum                                                                                                                                                                            Torn Labrum

Normal Labrum


Labral tears as a result of a shoulder dislocation are treated according to patient age. Most patients under age 30 will be offered a repair. This is based on evidence that the shoulder will continue to be unstable if treated nonoperatively. Older patients will be offered therapy in attempt to heal the tissue.


Labral Tear                                                                                                                                                                                    Labral Repair


SLAP tears are almost always treated with physical therapy. Some patients may fail physical therapy and require surgical intervention.


You will be in a sling for 6wks after surgery. Therapy will start within the first couple of days following your procedure.  The therapist will follow a strict program to improve strength, motion and function.  Most patients return to full activities in 4-6 months after labral repair.