Labral Debridement


According to, labral tissue helps mold the socket of the cuff to the humerus, providing a secure fit. Sometimes the labral tissue can become caught between the humerus and the rotator cuff. When this happens, a labral tear can occur. Labral debridement can help relieve discomfort for those suffering from a slight labral tear by getting rid of torn tissues and smoothing out the area.

What is a Labral Tear?

Small tears can be repaired with labral debridement, while larger tears may need labral repair. Large labral tears can make the shoulder less stable because the labrum is no longer providing as secure a fit as it did before. Labral debridement removes the torn edges of tissue, while labral repair reattaches the labrum to the bone using anchors. Many athletes suffer from this problem due to the repetitive motions of their sport. For instance, golfers can tear their labrums if the club strikes the ground during a swing, and pitchers can tear theirs from the repeated motion of throwing a baseball. Non athletes can also suffer a labral tear by falling on an outstretched arm or lifting too much at once.

How to Diagnose a Labral Tear

According to, if you have a labral tear, you may feel pain and a “catching” sensation in the shoulder. This is because flaps of the damaged labrum get stuck between the shoulder joint. Your doctor may have you raise your arm, and he will push down on it. If you feel pain, it could be a labral tear. He also may do a an MRI on the affected spot, but labral tears are notoriously difficult to see. A CT scan, however, may succeed where an MRI fails because it uses dye to highlight the area. The dye leaks into the tear, making it much more noticeable.

Labral Debridement Surgery

According to the Steadman Hawkins Treatment Center, arthroscopy is the preferred method of performing a labral debridement. During labral debridement, the surgeon makes an incision near the joint area. He then uses an arthoscope to locate the torn tissue. He then uses another instrument to cut off the damaged tissue. This keeps the tissue from “catching” in the joint and causing pain. The “catching” sensation disappears after the surgery. There are very few risks with labral debridement, but they include infection, stiffness after surgery and failure to heal properly due to the patient’s unwillingness or inability to follow the instructions given by the therapist or doctor.

Physical Therapy

Right after surgery, the patient will wear a sling to support and protect the shoulder for at least a few weeks. After a week, sutures are removed, and the patient can shower again. Painkillers such as aspirin are often given to help relieve pain. The patient will need physical therapy, which begin six weeks after the operation. The first type of therapy is passive. The therapist will gently move the joint and stretch the arm. Next is active therapy, where the patient does full range motions and light isometrics to help regain shoulder movement. Finally, active strengthening helps improve control of the rotator cuff muscles and help make the shoulder stable.


Full recovery takes about four to six months. During recovery and therapy, you should use ice and electrical stimulation to help reduce swelling, and you should avoid putting your shoulder under a great deal of stress; heavy lifting and repetitive motions such as throwing a ball or typing for long periods of time are examples. Your therapist will also use massage and other types of treatments to keep the muscles from spasming. This also will help reduce pain.


Labral Tears Steadman-Hawkins Treatment Center


A Study Comparing Debridement and Repair