While some cases may respond to physical therapy, many patients require surgery to reattach the torn labrum back to the socket. This is an outpatient surgery which is performed arthroscopically. After anesthesia is given, the patient is placed on their side and a small weight is attached to a sleeve wrapped around their arm to allow easier passage of instruments and sutures. Three to four small incisions (under ¼” each) are made around the shoulder. A camera (arthroscope) is placed in the shoulder joint and using special instruments, the torn labrum is prepared for repair. Special suture tools called anchors are drilled into the joint socket and the sutures are passed through the torn labrum to reattach it back to its anatomic position. The number of anchors used depends on the size of the labral tear.
After surgery, the patient is placed in a special sling and physical therapy is started the first week. It is normal to notice a decreased range of motion initially; it is an expected consequence of fixing the labrum and ligaments back to the socket. Over the following three months, the range of motion is restored and strengthening is started. Over 90% of patients have a successful outcome with no recurrence of their instability.