Surrounding the end of the shoulder blade is the labrum, a soft ring of tissue that helps stabilize the shoulder joint. Often, weight lifters and athletes tear the labrum, which can be painful and require surgery. Those with chronic pain that interferes with their daily activities are good candidates for labrum surgery. Recovery is never quick and cannot be rushed, although rehabilitation can better your chances of a full recovery.
Surgery for the repair of the labrum is generally successful in about 85% to 95% of the cases, according to Dr. Gary Gartsman of the Texas Orthopedic Hospital. There are many variables in this type of surgery that contribute to its success, including the amount of physical therapy the patient performs after surgery, the activity level of his lifestyle and whether he lets the shoulder fully recover before attempting to strain it again. There are also different levels of injury . Some injuries are confined to the rim without including the bicep tendon and offer more stability to the shoulder, requiring simpler procedures that offer a slightly quicker recovery time. Tears that extend to the tendon or are below the middle of the socket may require pleating of the tissue and could take longer to recover.
Returning to Work
Those working sedentary jobs are advised to take a full week of work off and return wearing an arm sling for six weeks after the surgery. No lifting, carrying, pulling or pushing at all is allowed for six to eight weeks and only light work at waist level of 5 to 10 lbs. is allowed after three to four months. Up to six months of recovery time is recommended before beginning any work at shoulder level and up to a year for heavy or overhead lifting.
Exercise & Physical Therapy
Your doctor will assign you a number of therapeutic exercises that will help stretch the injured area and aid healing. Walking can be tolerated within a few weeks of surgery and you may also use a Stairmaster or stationary bike. Regular biking or jogging should not be started until two to three months after surgery, although it might be painful if the shoulder is jarred at all. Light golf strokes may also be performed after this period. Tennis, swimming and running may resume after four to six months with a doctor’s approval.
Contact sports require at least six months of rehabilitation, while competitive sports can take up to a year. Weight lifters may not be able to lift even after that; the recovery time is unpredictable and should only be resumed under the guidance of a doctor. Some heavier weights may never be tolerated after this type of injury.