Understanding the Basics Behind Labral Repair
What is Labral Repair?
Your shoulder is a complex joint made up of many different working parts that keep the ball-and-socket functioning properly.
The natural fit of these parts gives your body a broad range of motion and flexibility. One pivotal component of the shoulder is the labrum, a fibrous cartilage that connects the ball and socket of your shoulder together and also encircles the entirety of your shoulder.
Since it’s so important—and spread across the entire shoulder joint—labrum damage is an incredibly common cause of shoulder pain. Labrum tears are caused by wear and tear from repetitive movement, as well as traumatic shoulder injuries. These injuries are especially prevalent in athletes who perform repetitive arm motions or who might suffer blunt force trauma to their shoulder.
Our experienced orthopedic shoulder physicians at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance have repaired thousands of labrums for our patients. We have the knowledge and expertise to deliver lasting results from labral repair in Kansas City.
After your initial examination with a KCOA physician, we will recommend the best treatment for your needs. Our practitioners provide the comprehensive care you need so you can return to the activities you enjoy.
Common signs that someone may need labral repair include:
- Reduced movement or pain when moving your shoulder
- Shoulder or upper arm weakness
- Numb or tingling sensations in your arms
- Burning sensation in your shoulder or arms
- Completely immobile or “locked” joint
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance Shoulder Injuries Assessment
Assessing the Injury
Finding the right shoulder treatment in Kansas City starts with an assessment.
You can think of shoulder pain as a spectrum, with some instances being more severe than others. The KCOA orthopedic specialists always focus on each individual patient and their concerns before creating a treatment plan.
Therefore, during your initial appointment, we will often ask questions such as:
- Does your pain currently limit you or your activities?
- Has your pain progressed or worsened recently?
- Have you experienced any locking in your shoulder or an inability to rotate your arm?
- Have you noticed any change in your symptoms that has made it more challenging to function?
- What are your lifestyle goals?
- How has pain affected those goals?
From there, we can decide whether shoulder arthroscopy will align best with your needs and lifestyle goals. After a proper assessment, we often begin with a physical examination to help determine the origin point of your pain. In some cases, advanced testing may be required for a full diagnosis.
Also called radiographs, an X-ray captures a picture of the bones comprising the shoulder. Orthopedic physicians may order an X-ray to rule out the possibility of a fracture (broken bone), osteoarthritis, or other bone-related condition.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI captures images of muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons to help provide information other tests can’t detail. During an MRI, you will lie on a table that slides into a tube-shaped scanner. The machine creates a magnetic field around you, using pulsed radio waves to form the MRI images.
Electromyograms (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Studies
Our board-certified physiatrists utilize electromyograms (EMGs) and nerve conduction studies to help determine whether nerves and muscles respond properly to stimuli. The EMG measures the electrical activity of your muscles at rest and in motion, while nerve conduction studies determine how fast and effectively your nerves and muscles receive electrical signals.
Establishing a Care Plan
Based on the results of your interview, examination, and imaging studies, you can expect a custom care plan catered specifically to you.
Many people believe it’s best to wait until pain becomes severe, leading them to “put off” or delay treatments.
If you are in constant discomfort, have shooting or stabbing pains, have limited range of motion, or an inability to perform your daily activities, labral repair may be right for you.
New technologies allow patients with shoulder pain to fully recover and enjoy the benefits of a more functional, pain-free lifestyle.
Prior to surgery, you will typically receive at least 2 phone calls:
- A hospital registration representative will call to gather insurance and other personal information.
- A registered nurse will call to review your health history and medication information.
Dependent on your health history, your physician may require:
- Pre-surgical laboratory tests
- Primary care clearance
Pre-operative instructions will vary depending on your physician and the location of your surgery.
Always check with your physician prior to surgery.
Most physicians require patients to not eat or drink after midnight prior to surgery the next day.
Additionally, you will need a designated family member or friend to drive you home on the day you are released from the hospital. Surgical patients cannot drive themselves home.
Day of Surgery
If you schedule your surgery with a KCOA physician, you can expect the following on surgery day:
- A receptionist will check you in at the hospital registration desk.
- A nurse will take you back and prepare you for surgery. They will start an IV, prepare the surgical site, and review your medical history and medications.
- Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will visit with you prior to your operation.
- The surgical team will take you to the operation suite for surgery.
How it Works
For your labral repair in Kansas City, your surgeon will most commonly use a technique called shoulder arthroscopy. Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows surgeons to see inside the joint.
A small tube with a camera is inserted through a minor incision, allowing the surgeon to make a more definitive diagnosis, and eliminating the need for a large surgical incision to repair or trim the damaged tissue.
We typically use arthroscopy to make a diagnosis when X-rays and other imaging tools do not provide answers. In some cases, like with a torn or damaged labrum in the shoulder, KCOA physicians use arthroscopy to treat orthopedic conditions.
During your shoulder arthroscopy in Kansas City, you will remain under general anesthesia. After creating a small incision, the surgeon inserts a tiny camera (arthroscope) into the shoulder joint, giving them a clear guide for the surgical instruments. Saline-based fluid flows through the arthroscope to keep the image clear and bleeding minimal.
After assessing the injury and condition, your surgeon will begin the repair. Depending on the extent or type of labral tear, your physician will choose to repair the damaged tissue or trim any frayed edges to ensure the area is smooth and congruent with the bony structures.
The labral tissue is very delicate and these types of repairs require the skill of a physician with superior training and experience, like our care team at KCOA.
After your surgery, you will remain in the recovery room before being discharged. Our experienced clinical team will monitor you during this recovery and provide pain relief medication, if needed.
Repairing a rotator cuff is a significant procedure which often needs a few weeks to a few months for your shoulder to fully recover.
Because of its proximity to the head and neck and the concentration of nerve endings, shoulder surgeries can cause quite a bit of discomfort. Therefore, after surgery, the shoulder is often very sore, achy, and painful.
This is expected. Keep in mind, the shoulder joint is more complicated than the knee due to its structure and mobility, which is why recovery usually takes longer. Most people are in a sling for at least 6 weeks with a labral repair, but for more severe cases, it may be extended to 2 months.
What to Expect
As time passes, you will gradually notice an improvement for up to a year.
To prevent further injuries, it’s important to maintain good posture (ensuring the shoulder is in a good position relative to the scapula), focus on core strength, and promote healthy mobility of the thoracic spine.
We recommend regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and monitoring your blood sugar levels if you’re diabetic.
Staying active and following the instructions of your providers are the keys to a successful recovery from a shoulder labral repair.
Causes of Shoulder Pain
The body has different kinds of joints, and they all face different challenges. The shoulder is a “ball-in-socket” joint, meaning it’s composed of a ball-like structure that moves inside a depression in the bone to allow for rotational movements. The ball-shaped head of your humerus (upper arm bone) that fits into the glenoid cavity in the scapula (shoulder blade) creates the shoulder joint.
In most instances, pain in your shoulder doesn’t come from these bones unless a fracture is present. Pain generators in the shoulder include disruptions to muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons that surround and support this joint.
Surgery, even minimally invasive ones like shoulder arthroscopy, isn’t necessarily the first choice. Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance physicians prefer a more conservative approach to treatment, so we will typically exhaust all non-surgical options before recommending surgery. Non-surgical treatments for shoulder injuries include:
Physical Therapy – Strengthening and stabilizing exercises can also be expected during PT with a damaged labrum. Because each patient and each injury is unique a customized plan will be constructed by your physician and the treating therapist.
Medications – Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil) or prescription medications. Especially with NSAIDs, you should always talk to your doctor to ensure they are the right treatment for you.
Injections – Cortisone injections can help reduce inflammation in the shoulder and can even provide additional insight into the cause of your shoulder pain. The amount of relief from an injection varies by patient, but often in combination with physical therapy, patients can experience significant improvements in their function.
Regenerative Medicines – Regenerative medicines like stem cell injections or platelet-rich plasma can help nourish worn or damaged tissue. This option works best if you have mild-to-moderate shoulder pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance is here to help.
Our care is personal. Our team is knowledgeable. And we’re more available than ever.
With access to board-certified specialists across Kansas City, we have the tools to meet almost every musculoskeletal condition.
Overland Park, Kansas10777 Nall Ave Suite 300 Overland Park, KS 66211
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Kansas City, MissouriSaint Luke's Medical Plaza #1 4320 Wornall Rd., Ste. 610 Kansas City, MO 64111
Belton, MissouriBelton Regional Campus 17067 S Outer Rd #301 Belton, MO 64012
Merriam, Kansas7450 W. Frontage Rd Merriam, KS 66203
Dr. Ting and his staff are the best!
Dr. Ting and his staff are the best! Sarah his nurse is kind and supportive. Dr. Tings nurse for surgery was absolutely the best! Dr. Ting, I have complete faith in. He is who I shall go to for anything he handles! Can’t say enough about him! Thank you all for making a scary time a completely peaceful event. You are the best!!
Staff is great
…just did my husbands hands on Wed. last week and can’t believe how well he is doing. We have already recommended you to our son and a few others. Your staff is great and my husband doing well. Thanks to you.
I left a very happy patient.
…I arrived a little bit late. I got checked in quickly and was back in a room within 10 minutes. Dr Rhodes was very friendly and took the time to pull up pictures of my surgery and show them and explain them to me. I left a very happy patient.
Dr. Scott Ellsworth is one of the best
Dr. Scott Ellsworth is one of the best I have ever worked with. He is knowledgeable, efficient, caring, and knows his patients. He has a special bedside manner that makes any patient in any situation feel comfortable. All of the nurses and office staff are wonderful as well.
I'm consistently impressed
In the process of treating my particular problem I’ve been to Apex probably 4-5 times. I’m consistently impressed by the professionalism of the staff and the amount of care & time they spend with me as a patient. They’re always very careful to make sure I understand the nature of the medical problem, the reasons for the diagnosis, and the type of treatment recommended. Stephanie’s care and concern is especially appreciated.