Supraspinatus and Labral Tears

I hurt my shoulder several months ago and after six weeks of PT I feel about 50 percent better. Two radiologists viewed my MRI. The first said I had a partial tear of the supraspinatus and labral tear, and the other said I had a borderline partial/full tear of the supraspinatus and labral tear.

By Rock and Ice | June 2nd, 2015

I hurt my shoulder several months ago and after six weeks of PT I feel about 50 percent better. My orthopod has me doing another six weeks in the hopes that I will continue to improve. Two radiologists viewed my MRI. The first said I had a partial tear of the supraspinatus and labral tear, and the other said I had a borderline partial/full tear of the supraspinatus and labral tear. What are the odds of being able to recover from this? Should I have surgery or continue with therapy?

—Michael Denkovich | Plainview, NY

You’ll be fine. I foresee that your shoulder will recover and you will find happiness in a dark-haired girl with ash-green eyes and a smile of pearls. You will reach a new high point in climbing by the end of next year, having spent a few months using mind power, food and sex to heal and strengthen your shoulder. You’ll appear on NBC in a TV series that will empower the American people with your recipe to life and happiness. God knows the Americans currently need it.

Most labral tears will settle without surgical intervention. The primary two symptoms that would propel you into the surgical theater are ongoing pain (beyond six months) and locking of the shoulder whereby you cannot continue to move it without first reversing it and giving it a little shake out. That’s the cartilage tear wedging in the joint. BADNESS.

Going to surgery before either occurs is hastier than a Middle Eastern invasion. The dilemma here is that even with an MRI it’s difficult to elucidate the extent of damage. Because of this there is little data for physicians to extrapolate what injuries are likely to settle down without surgery.

At face value your injury looks no worse than most and should continue to settle. There is, of course, a chance that it won’t, so keep communicating with your ortho; it sounds like she is on the ball.


This article was published in Rock and Ice 198 (December 2011).

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