Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I'd like to know what's the fastest recovery time possible for shoulder surgery? I'm having a labral tear repaired and I want to get back to sports absolutely as fast as possible.


Your recovery time may depend on the type of surgery you are having. Labral tears of the shoulder can be repaired using an open versus an arthroscopic method. The final results are nearly the same, but studies show the arthroscopic group has fewer problems afterwards. There is also a shorter hospital stay and less blood lost with arthroscopic surgery.

If we use the military model, expected return to full athletic participation would be after four to six months. Since the goal of military medicine is to return the soldier to duty as soon as possible, it makes sense to use this model with young, athletes in equally good shape.

The rehab program after labral tears in the military is broken down into three main phases. Each stage lasts about four weeks (one month). During Stage 1, the patient is immobilized in a sling. Special shoulder and elbow exercises are allowed as taught by the physical therapist.

Stage 2 works to restore motion without damaging the repair. The therapist will teach you how to protect the surgical site while gaining shoulder motion. Stage 3 focuses on strengthening the muscles around the shoulder. The program progresses from there until the patient is ready for full, active duty. In your case, that would be a return to your preinjury levels of sports play. LTC (P) Craig R. Bottoni, MD, et al. Arthroscopic Versus Open Shoulder Stabilization for Recurrent Anterior Instability. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. November 2006. Vol. 34. No. 11. Pp. 1730-1737.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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