Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I'm going to have surgery next week to repair a torn labrum in my right shoulder. The surgeon said I'll be lying on my left side with my right arm in a traction device. I'm a little worried about having them pull on my arm like that. Is it really necessary? What if it causes my shoulder to dislocate?


The patient is usually placed in a sidelying position when the surgeon suspects a tear in the posterior labrum. Posterior refers to the back of the shoulder joint.

The labrum is a rim of dense, fibrous cartilage that is attached to the shoulder socket. The labrum helps form a deeper cavity for the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) to fit into.

Sometimes the labrum tears away from the bone and takes a piece of the bone with it. The surgeon must lift the labrum up, smooth the bone underneath, and then reattach the cartilage. Traction is needed in order to help the surgeon see inside the joint and access the damaged areas.

A special arm traction device is used. It places the arm in the position needed by the surgeon and holds it there during the operation. A small amount of weight (usually 10 pounds) is used. This is not enough to dislocate the shoulder. This technique is safe for the patient and effective for the surgeon. Matthew T. Provencher, MD, LCDR, MC, USNR, et al. Arthroscopic Preparation of the Posterior and Posteroinferior Glenoid Labrum. In Orthopedics. November 2007. Vol. 30. No. 11. Pp. 904-905.

*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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