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Labrum..the progress killer?


Original Post
Tyler Metheney · · St Louis · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 4

So my shoulder has been giving me some issues for a few months an I finally got the call today that my labrum is torn. I will probably undergo surgery since it cannot repair itself. My question is how much will I lose with the recovery time. I was just starting to scratch the surface of a new grade in climbing an now this. Obviously I will lose allot of strength in my right shoulder but does technique an the mentality of leading go down the crapper? 

Has anyone had this surgery an how long before you were crushing at full speed again? Sorry if this has been asked to death but this news is depressing to say the least an I was hoping to get some positive or negative feedback from ones who have been down this road. Thank you in advance. 

Skik2000 · · Boulder · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 5

I assume you’ve done the required PT to see if you can avoid surgery?

Berweger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 0

This thread should give you everything you need and more:

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/109812275/anterior-shoulder-dislocation-recovery-process

A bankart repair is a specific type of labrum repair, so everything should apply including recovery timeline etc. I'm a few years out from my repair and my shoulder feels better than it ever has.

Tyler Metheney · · St Louis · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 4

Skik2000

I've been doing PT up until I just got the news.Were having a sit down next Tuesday to discuss options. If that's an ideal option I would certainly do it. I've been just climbing through it this whole time. It causes pain but nothing unbearable. 

Berweger thanks for the link. I appreciate it.

Alex Lombardo · · Davis, CA · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 115

I partially tore my labrum in high school (due to swimming, not climbing). It's a terrible, painful injury but one that doesn't always necessitate surgery. I was given the choice of surgery or no surgery and chose the latter. 4 months of rest and PT was sufficient to return the shoulder to normal albeit weakened functionality. It took another year or so for it to feel totally normal, and I have never noticed it since then. 

My advice is to get a MRI (which I assume you have done if you know it's torn at all), find someone who specializes in shoulder injuries to look at it (which you may have also done), and go from there. If it's fully torn then surgery is likely the only effective long term solution; if not, try to find a way to avoid it.

Tombo · · Boulder · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 390

I had it done about 15 years ago and It took me about a year to get back to full strength.   That being said I was older so recovery seems to diminish with age, they may have new procedures  etc.  I will say that the repaired shoulder hasn't bothered me since and is probably the stronger one.

Tyler Metheney · · St Louis · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 4
Tombo wrote:

I had it done about 15 years ago and It took me about a year to get back to full strength.   That being said I was older so recovery seems to diminish with age, they may have new procedures  etc.  I will say that the repaired shoulder hasn't bothered me since and is probably the stronger one.

Thanks for the response tombo, I'm turning 32 Sunday so I'm no spring chicken anymore. It's good to know the surgery worked well for you. One thing I've noticed since I continue to climb is an uneasy lack of support feeling. It's really made me concentrate on my footwork. Maybe that's a silver lining.  :-)

Skik2000 · · Boulder · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 5

How long have you been doing the PT?  Since injury a few months ago?

Jack Strifling · · Lexington, KY · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

I'm in the exact same situation:  torn inferior labrum on MRI.  Except my shoulder surgeon does not recommend surgery.  The recovery/downtime is significant which I can't manage with my job (I'm a surgeon also).  So I'm hopeful that rest and PT will get me close to normal again by the end of the year.  But I'm curious to hear other climber's opinions who have been through this.    

Tyler Metheney · · St Louis · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 4
Skik2000 wrote:

How long have you been doing the PT?  Since injury a few months ago?

Been doing those band exercises for about a month now but like I said I've still been climbing.  However,  we did not know it was torn once I started the PT so maybe there's different exercises geared toward a tear.

Ammo Altavena · · Denver, CO · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 0

Fancy that - I was thinking about making a thread on this today as well - I also was just diagnosed yesterday with a torn labrum (finally got the MRI). I've been not climbing for a month and a half, PT-ing for 3 months, and have had chronic pain in my left shoulder since last July. My doctor originally didn't even want me to get an MRI and just diagnosed me with 'Scapular Winging'. He essentially said a torn labrum means little. 

  •  Is surgery absolutely necessary or can PT fix scapular winging and overall shoulder dysfunction? 
  • I'm not having joint pain and have never had my shoulder dislocate 
  • I'm having back (scapula, traps, neck, ribs 1/2 front) pain which my PT thinks stems from the torn labrum / doing weird shoulder movements to compensate  
Doug Chism · · Arlington VA · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Doc thinks I may have a torn labrum, I am in PT and he will do an MRI if PT not showing improvement. My symptoms are pain in the back of the shoulder, making it difficult to hang or do pull ups, clicking  ( sometimes with pain ) when extending the arm in front of me across the body. The PT seems pretty mild, not sure if its really going to help, she is just focusing on stretching the shoulder out to get full range of motion but if something is torn, not sure why you would want to stretch it so much. It always feels much worse after PT and much better after exercise. 

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 735

I had a SLAP tear repair/biceps tenodesis surgery almost two years ago. During surgery they also noted a fraying rotator cuff tendon that was fixed, and a bone spur that was removed.

Just like you, I was doing PT for months before the surgery, and I was able to climb reasonably well with the tear, with just some pain, and avoiding certain moves.

Going into the surgery, I was told 6 months off climbing. I was given couple exercises to do right after surgery, and started more extensive PT about 2 weeks after surgery.
At 3 months post-surgery the dr said that the shoulder looked pretty strong, and he would see no problem if I started to introduce climbing into my rehab. So I did.

At 4 months post-surgery  I could barely climb easy 5.10. At 5 months I had sent my first 11a post- surgery, then a week later 11b, couple weeks later 12a, and a 12c a month after that. So about 7 months to get back to pre-surgery climbing ability.

Tyler Metheney · · St Louis · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 4

Just to give an update to those who are in a similar situation. I'm 2 days out of surgery an all I can say is I totally underestimated how painful this would be. I may just be a big wuss but dang! Really trying to stay positive and hope for better days. So if you don't like intense pain I'd recommend going the conservative route.

Cheers

Mark Thesing · · Central Indiana · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 60

Yea Tyler, the surgeon told me before my rotator cuff surgery that I will likely feel some discomfort after surgery. I thought that was the understatement of the year.

Andrewww · · Concord, NH · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 625

I have a complete right labral tear, shoulder surgeon did not recommend surgery. When I asked what the likelyhood of me tearing it again after surgery was, I was told 75-80% chance that I would tear it again. I was told to strengthen all of the supporting shoulder muscles and live with a little bit of pain. Found out about my labral tear when I was being treated for an AC joint injury. The cost and recovery time didn’t make sense with the slim chance that it wouldn’t reoccur. Plus, I’ve been told that shoulder surgeries have the most painful recoveries. 

Tyler Metheney · · St Louis · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 4
Andrewww wrote: I have a complete right labral tear, shoulder surgeon did not recommend surgery. When I asked what the likelyhood of me tearing it again after surgery was, I was told 75-80% chance that I would tear it again. I was told to strengthen all of the supporting shoulder muscles and live with a little bit of pain. Found out about my labral tear when I was being treated for an AC joint injury. The cost and recovery time didn’t make sense with the slim chance that it wouldn’t reoccur. Plus, I’ve been told that shoulder surgeries have the most painful recoveries. 

Well with those odds sounds like you made the right decision. Mine was only a partial tear with some fraying in other spots. The Dr knows I plan on returning to climbing at a high physical level and didn't mention once of a good chance of tearing it again. 75%-80% is terrible odds. Most people who I've read about say that they feel even stronger than before so thAt is what I'm praying for. An thankfully I'm blessed for the fact that the VA is not making me pay for it. If I had of forked over the dough I'd feel even worse for paying for so much pain.

Lena chita · · OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 735
Tyler Metheney wrote:

Well with those odds sounds like you made the right decision. Mine was only a partial tear with some fraying in other spots. The Dr knows I plan on returning to climbing at a high physical level and didn't mention once of a good chance of tearing it again. 75%-80% is terrible odds. Most people who I've read about say that they feel even stronger than before so thAt is what I'm praying for. An thankfully I'm blessed for the fact that the VA is not making me pay for it. If I had of forked over the dough I'd feel even worse for paying for so much pain.

I think the pain is the worst at 2-5 days post-surgery. (Personal experience of having multiple surgeries, knee was worse than shoulder for me.) So it will be getting better from now on.

But fair warning, in a few days the regret will set in. Exhausted from nagging pain.ache, and probably inability to sleep well, because of the awkwardness, You will think that you have made a horrible mistake, the surgery was a failure, you will never be able to move normally, let alone climb... This too is a personal experience, and this too shall pass. Hope your recovery goes smoothly! And it likely will.

Maureen Maguire · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0

Pain barks up at two days when the nerve block wears off . Don't be discouraged. It's awful but it will recover. Eye on the prize.

Brendan Blanchard · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 585
Andrewww wrote: Plus, I’ve been told that shoulder surgeries have the most painful recoveries. 

Having had a meniscus transplant (one arthroscopic insertion, plus 2x 2" long incisions) and a labral repair (three arthroscopic insertions), I could not disagree more! The shoulder repair was more painful than plain arthroscopy (two insertions) on a knee, but still.

To the OP: I'm four years out from shoulder surgery, and have been climbing since four months after. It doesn't start easy, but the slower you come back and the more you focus on form over strength, the better off you'll be. In short, your body is NOT intended to be operated on, and recovery from surgery to reach athletic performance again is a serious endeavor. For the first 1-2 years after surgery, I highly suggest you do symmetric exercises like pull-ups and push-ups under personal or video supervision (shirt off, bro!) so you can find your imbalances early rather than years later when they're well-ingrained and have been asymmetrically trained for a while. Video-ing your climbing, especially on a systems board is also highly recommended.
j c · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

I had a bankart repair surgery 10 weeks ago after multiple dislocations while climbing over the past year and a half. Surgeon originally said 6 months minimum before I can climb again but my PT is going well and he thinks I should be able to return before then. I'd say I have about 80% range of motion at this point with very little pain, but I still feel being able to pull with my right arm is a ways away.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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