An anterior shoulder dislocation is the most common type of shoulder dislocation. This injury usually occurs when the arm is in vulnerable position and is violently forced forwards or backwards, displacing the humeral head (ball) from the glenoid (socket). If the humeral head is dislocated anteriorly, it pushes against the labrum at the front of the shoulder socket. A torn labrum in the anterior shoulder joint is known as a Bankart Tear (or Bankart Lesion). If a torn labrum does not heal properly, the shoulder joint will be less stable and can continue to dislocate.
While this injury typically occurs as the result of trauma, it can also occur as the result of overuse or genetics.
Pain, numbness, a limited range of motion, weakness and instability are all common symptoms of a Bankart Tear.
The head of the upper arm bone (humeral head) rest in the the shoulder blade socket (glenoid). The shoulder socket is relatively shallow and the head of the upper arm bone is larger than the shoulder socket. The labrum (fibrous cartilage) lines the shoulder socket, helping to stabilize the shoulder joint by deepening the socket. Ligaments and the labrum work together to keep the upper arm bone within it’s natural position in the shoulder socket.
The ligaments of the shoulder joint are attached to the labrum and the bones of the shoulder joint. A dislocated shoulder can damage these ligaments, nerves and the labrum. If a torn labrum does not heal properly, the shoulder joint will be less stable and most likely will continue to dislocate.
Further dislocation can cause more damage to the shoulder joint, so an early diagnosis is highly recommended. Most shoulder injuries have overlapping symptoms (like pain and a limited range of motion), so it can be difficult to self diagnose a shoulder disorder.
An orthopedic shoulder doctor will ask a patient about their symptoms, perform a physical examination, review medical history, order x-rays and possibly order additional imaging test depending on the patient’s symptoms.
Bankart tears are unlikely to heal properly on their own if a patient has experienced significant damage to the ligaments, labrum or nerves. The labrum and ligaments of the shoulder have a limited blood supply and joint fluid within the tear can interfere with the healing process.
An orthopedic shoulder specialist will explain options for treatment after diagnosing and evaluating the extent of the injury.
If surgery is indicated to repair a Bankart tear, it is typically done as a minimally invasive procedure (arthroscopy). During surgery, the labrum is repaired and the shoulder joint capsule may be tightened if it has been stretched. Suture anchors are used to secure the labrum that tore away back to the bone.
The advantages of having a Bankart Repair done arthroscopically include smaller incisions, less post-operative pain and rehabilitation will be easier. A Bankart Repair procedure is commonly done on an outpatient basis.
After surgery, a patient will use a shoulder brace to protect the repair while it heals. Physical therapy with a therapist usually starts about a week after surgery. A therapist works with patients to help them regain range of motion and strength in the shoulder joint. Physical therapy is commonly needed for 4 to 6 months.
Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeons at The CMD
If you are experiencing pain, swelling, weakness or a limited range of motion in the shoulder joint, schedule an appointment with one of our specialist. Most shoulder injuries that are diagnosed early will be able to be treated using conservative methods. If surgery is indicated, our experienced shoulder surgeons use the most advanced surgical techniques to help you return an active and pain free life style.