There are many reasons why this is one of the most frequent questions that I field from e-mails through my website, or with patients whom I am interacting with the my office. Virtually every patient is nervous about surgery. That’s normal. Perhaps the issue that you are worried about, and perhaps quite accurately, you worry whether or not the labrum is the source of your pain — and the surgery you are about to undergo is necessary. You also worry about the time off it needs to heal, and if you will be able to return to your prior level of activity. As I’ve mentioned before, if you are an overhead athlete and have pain during throwing and found to have a labral tear, and do not respond to physical therapy – – – there is a good chance that the surgery is indicated, however, recent scientific literature has shown that you may not return to your prior level of pitching ability. If you have have fallen and your shoulder is dislocated, and your shoulder continues to dislocate, then your surgery is well indicated.
If you are 50 years old have difficulty raising your arm, have pain at night, have pain when you trying to work out in the gym, or work out in the yard, it is almost certain that the labral tear found on your MRI is not the source of your pain.
Again, your history, your physical exam, and your MRI, must all correlate to create a clinical “story” or a situation where the surgeon is nearly certain that the labral tears the source of your pain. We can never be 100% sure… but we should be almost certain :-)
More information on Shoulder Labral Tears
My Video discussion on Labral Tears