Anyone ever get a labrum tear repaired before with surgery? Would love to hear story / advice

hedgehog9's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,335

Hey guys, so about a year ago I had a small labrum tear from overhead presses (no desire to do those ever again after consulting with several PTs and doctors about its functionality). Like a dumbass, I waited like 6 months before talking to a doctor, and was prescribed PT as the doctor thought it might suffice w/out surgery.

Long story short, PT improved my condition a decent amount, but I've been doing it for 6 months now and I'm still feeling a strong ache when I've been sitting down at my desk on my right shoulder/arm. Also, the area constantly feels twinged when I'm lifting. At this point, I'm strongly considering getting the surgery & doing the 6 month recovery because:

1) I don't want to be dealing with this dull ache for the rest of my life
2) I don't want to be doing PT for the rest of my life (my PT says I need to be doing this at least 2-3 times a week for the rest of my life, which is ludicrous as I have friends who did the surgery, did PT, and now lift without doing their PT exercises ever again)
3) I want to get back to lifting with full confidence

Yes, it sucks, and all together, it'll be 1.5-2 years off of lifting seriously (incrementally only another 7-8 months from now I suppose), but at this point I just want to have my life back. In my early 20s for context. Having a consultation soon to discuss surgical options; also hopeful since its only a small tear it might accelerate my recovery, but who knows.

Any stories of your own getting labrum repair surgery / post-op recovery tips / lifting injury thoughts?

Comments (33)

May 18, 2019

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May 20, 2019

Right shoulder.

The recovery sucks, you'll be in a sling for a couple weeks and then have on top of your PT to get back to full strength. Also had it done in early 20s and now about 10yrs later its still holding up.

If you've exhausted non-surgical options, then I'd recommend doing the surgery sooner than later. Since you're in your 20s it will be an easier recovery than if you wait until later in life.

May 20, 2019

Thanks for the advice man. Couple quick q's:

  1. How long did you do PT for? Do you still do it to this day?
  2. How does your shoulder feel these days? Exactly like before the injury?
  3. How long was your recovery process before you were back to lifting heavy?
May 20, 2019

It was 10yrs ago, but I'll try and answer

  1. I want to say three months with a trainer, then another couple months at home
  2. Pretty good. Great for the first couple years, slowly over time I've noticed an occasional pinch or something. But nothing like the dislocation feeling from before surgery. So I'd say 8/10
  3. I eased back into lifting, and but never super heavy or anything. I'd guess if you were diligent with recovery, 6-9 months. But defer to your doctor on that.
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May 20, 2019

Don't avoid the press. Have someone coach you through how to perform it correctly. I had a labral tear fixed along with a capsule reduction in college - you can choose to waste a few years with stretchy bands and scar tissue, or you can be back to lifting in two months, up to you.

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May 20, 2019

Myself and 2 of my friends all have labrum tears from sports-related activities.

One of the friends had his shoulder surgically repaired by a shoulder specialist that caters to the professional sports community because he planned to compete in college. Ended up re-tearing his shoulder a year later and ending his sports career.

The other friend had the surgery and everything was great for the first year or two but then his shoulder went back to popping out. Now, it's like he never even had the surgery.

I tore my labrum and didn't do anything about it for 10 years. I would constantly partially dislocate my arm from doing anything and everyone from throwing a baseball to giving someone a high five. Finally, I went to PT and it was the first time I ever saw improvement. I regained some mobility and strength back.

If I were you, I would do PT before opting for surgery. You do it for a couple of months and then you work those exercises into your warm-up routine at the gym. There are a lot of doctors who are too quick to go under the knife and since the shoulder is one of the most complicated joints in the body, the results are mixed.

Either way, don't do nothing. Actively, work to heal your arm.

May 20, 2019

I've had a right shoulder labrum tear for well over a decade. Had the option to get it fixed 5 years ago but stupidly chose not to. Now I've gone through a few cycles of reaggravating it, going through the whole PT and exercises bullshit, seeing marginal improvements, then being talked out of the surgery (usually by the surgeons themselves). Then it all starts up once I hurt it again. My advice is get the surgery sooner rather than later. In my personally experience it will not spontaneously heal no matter how much you strengthen the surrounding muscles. I'm really kicking myself for not having just bit the bullet years ago when I actually had the chance.

    • 1
May 21, 2019

Dislocated my shoulder when I was 21 and tore my labrum and rotator cuff in one clean go. Got surgery and did PT 1-2 times a week for 3 months. I definitely wasn't lifting heavy, but after 3 months I could exercise, play some light basketball (with people who knew to take it easy on my shoulder), swim in the ocean. After 6 months I was lifting light and after 12 months I felt 85% back to normal and could lift heavy if I wanted to.

I think we all know that guy who's shoulder has been bothering him for years but just never bothered to get it fixed. My advice would be to find a great surgeon, get it done, be diligent and patient with your PT (do NOT rush it), and look back at this in 12 months as a minor inconvenience.

Most Helpful
May 21, 2019

I had my Left shoulder done now about two years ago (or thereabouts). Mine was a pretty big tear, I think, ~75% or so. Similar situation where i was functional day to day but any activities (Golf, lifting, etc.) were a nightmare and it just wouldn't get better no matter the PT, etc. You can read more if you'd like below, but It was the right decision for me. I can play hockey, golf and lift again like I used to. It won't feel the same, may not work as perfectly as it did, but you can be active without the pain.

It sucked - it really, really sucked. The first week or two I was entirely useless, and remained that way for about a month or so after that once the immediate surgery effects wore off, painkillers were done, etc. It's shockingly painful/tender for awhile afterward. You can, and I did because i'm a dumbass, start traveling and or resume work pretty quickly after (though i would not recommend travel).

The recovery was pretty awful as well - lot's of pain to regain mobility, stretching, constant work on your arm - and, not to mention, constant fear that it will re-tear itself. If you are disciplined and keep with it after about 6-8 months you'll be starting to get the mobility back and start, i stress this - start- to get some of the normal feeling back. From there, you just need to commit to building the strength back and taking it easy. I found it helpful as they had me go through functional exercises to ease the mental worry of swinging a golf club and it tearing.

Something I also discovered was how bad my posture was and how awful, just god damn awful my lifting form was. I had no conception of where the shoulder joint started, ended and/or how much less range of motion i needed on a lot of lifts. There's a lot of learning you will do about all of that - but it was a positive side effect of the whole situation. You really focus on, and get in touch with, how your body responds to things.
Recovery seems to vary as some people come back quick, some people never quite come back. I've been fortunate as mine has not torn again and has been pretty stable. What I will tell you is that it never will feel the same again. I can't quite lift it as high as i used to (only I could ever tell, and it's marginal). It still feels very weird when I lift heavier weights and/or use it heavily - though I can play hockey and it has held up remarkably well.

If you've read this far, i'll give you one other piece of advice on something I didn't expect: it was harder emotionally than I thought. Not only with people who were helping take care of me immediately after the surgery as i came off the anesthesia and painkillers - but even after as the months wore on and it was harder and harder to see any progress. Prepare yourself for that aspect of it - set as much up beforehand as you can. Get a good chair to sleep in - setup your bedroom - make sure you have 'looser' shirts so that you can get your arm in easier and just simplify your life.

Good luck - let me know if you have any other questions.

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May 22, 2019


Something I also discovered was how bad my posture was and how awful, just god damn awful my lifting form was. I had no conception of where the shoulder joint started, ended and/or how much less range of motion i needed on a lot of lifts. There's a lot of learning you will do about all of that - but it was a positive side effect of the whole situation. You really focus on, and get in touch with, how your body responds to things.

Can not stress this enough. I had surgery on my left shoulder and felt as if the surgery was a waste. It took me a while to realize how important my posture and the positioning of the shoulder blades are. Highly recommend getting the injury taken care of right away and focusing on improving posture/scapular strength post surgery.

May 24, 2019

Hey thanks for the response. When you say "it won't feel the same, many not work as perfectly as it did," what are you referring to exactly? I'm a bit unclear...

May 26, 2019

I have full range of motion back, strength is pretty much entirely back at this point - yet when i lift it quickly, do certain exercises and even swing a golf club it just feels 'different'. Not in a painful way, just weird. Less fluid is probably the right way to describe it.

My best example is that I play Ice hockey, goalie, and when I go to use my left hand to make a save - specifically when reaching up and away from me - it simply doesn't get as far as it used to and can kinda feel it 'catch' as I move it. Again, not painful, but also not quite as quick as prior to surgery. It might be that i'm still mindful of it and simply focus on it - but that's what i'm talking about generally.

    • 1
May 21, 2019

FWIW - when I tore my labrum the doc said do light PT or maybe even do nothing and let it heal. He said I'd feel better in a few months. I chose to do nothing and 6 months later it wasn't better at all, not even slightly. But I was busy at work and not exercising anyway so I didn't go back to doc. Some long time after that (say another year or so) I noticed that it was a lot better. Sometimes these things take longer, just FYI.

May 22, 2019

You could switch to dumbell presses, but its pretty hard to go max on those as getting the DBs up is fucking hard af.

Best of luck regardless!


May 22, 2019


May 22, 2019

full tear in my right shoulder. had surgery 11 years ago...

still holding up but biggest weakness is my bench press, never been able to get back to double plates.

post surgery in a sling for 2 months. then ~6 months of PT going 3-4x a week. I was a D1 athlete so it was paid for by the school, but it can get expensive. so full 8 months to be 90% again.

The sling sucks its huge - google breg slingshot - it will be something like that.

your shoulder will be stiff as hell and very difficult to move the first few months. PT stretches it out and strengthens it. could be tough at a desk.

if you do get surgery - get a ice machine during recovery. floods cold water through the shoulder. total game changer.

May 23, 2019

Very fair. I was planning on switching to the seated chess press machine (no desire to test fate).

As for your shoulder, how does it feel now? No twinges of pain or weakness while working out / general life?

May 23, 2019

its been fine since. when i was still playing i had to ice it consistently after games but otherwise fine.

May 22, 2019

did you have an MRI? the MRI sucks too. they stick this huge (5+ inch) needle in your shoulder to be able to insert dye into the shoulder for the machine.

May 23, 2019

Had one w/out contrast, but doing another with it, so I'm gonna get that needle unfortunately...

May 22, 2019

I think the success rate is like 50% for shoulder surgery. Be careful

May 22, 2019

Get the surgery and be done with it. You have years to be in the gym. Don't lift without a spot. The worst thing can happen is that your shoulder gives out on you while you have something heavy in hand and its goodnight.

May 23, 2019

Did not come across this wound

May 25, 2019
May 26, 2019

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee