What happens if your shoulder labral tear is not repaired?

If your shoulder labral tear is not repaired you may have continued pain and instability in your shoulder, or you may not have any pain or instability in your shoulder depending on where your labral tear is, how big it is, and how old you are. Labrum tears can be classified into three different areas, the superior labrum (the top part of your labrum which when torn is a SLAP tear), the anterior labrum (front part of your labrum), and the posterior labrum (back part of your labrum). Tears of the anterior labrum are the ones that usually cause shoulder instability and pain (meaning it pops out of its socket), while superior and posterior labrum tears can result in pain but rarely cause instability. Here at Easy Orthopedics in Colorado Springs, we frequently see patients with labral tears and try to avoid surgery if at all possible.

Can you live with a torn labrum in your shoulder?

You can certainly live with a torn labrum in your shoulder. A torn labrum will not cause you to die, in most cases it will just cause pain. Superior labral tears generally cause pain with overhead activities such as volleyball or swimming, and posterior labral tears will generally cause pain with pushing activities such as bench press. These tears can be left alone if the pain isn’t too bad. Anterior labral tears are the ones that can cause shoulder instability, meaning that your shoulder keeps popping out of its socket. If your shoulder keeps popping out of its socket, then it may be worth getting your anterior labrum repaired.

How serious is a labral tear in the shoulder?

A labral tear in the shoulder is only as serious as the symptoms it causes. If you have excessive shoulder pain or your shoulder is constantly dislocating, then it is serious and worth getting treated, possibly with surgery. If your shoulder is stable and it doesn’t hurt that bad, then it is not so serious. There are even those in the population who have labral tears and don’t even know it!

Can a shoulder labral tear get worse?

A shoulder labral tear can always get worse if left untreated. Usually if it does get worse, this will manifest by increased shoulder pain or in the case of an anterior labral tear, increasing episodes of shoulder instability. However, it doesn’t always mean that the tear will get worse with time. There are many with stable anterior, superior, and posterior labral tears that aren’t getting any bigger, and are not causing significant pain or instability. Many chose to live with these tears and still have good function.

I hope we were able to answer some of your questions about what happens if your shoulder labral tear is not repaired. If you would like us to evaluate your shoulder labrum and are in the Colorado area, contact us below to make an appointment at Easy Orthopedics.

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