Stitch

Shoulder Labral Tear in Climber Rehabbed with Physical Therapy

What is your story about?
I tore my shoulder labrum and experienced difficulty performing any movement that required my arms to go overhead. I considered surgery, but was recommended against it by my doctor. I pursued aggressive rehab, and have made a significant recovery. I think for the most optimal results, surgery might be the right answer.
What was your shoulder injury?
I had a large tear in the anterior portion of the labrum.
Did you decide to have surgery?
2 years ago I was trying to decide if I should get surgery or not, my doctor recommended that I don't get surgery and give up climbing. At the time, I was 8 months into by rehab and still couldn't do a pull-up, but I felt myself getting stronger consistently; I could do almost anything that doesn't involve my arms going over my head. I don't know if my surgeon's recommendation not to get surgery was the right call or not, but I didn't pursue it.
What did your rehab program involve?
My rehab approach involved not a whole lot since I've been busy with university unfortunately. But it started out with all your generic strengthening exercises (building up the rotator cuff/serratus anterior/deltoids/pec minor) as well some mobility work to get the scapula tracking properly, this was basically generic band work that I did about 30 minutes a day for one year, stuff any reasonable physio place will give you. I wasn't in a huge rush because I made school a priority and kinda fell out of love with climbing. Then I ended up at a place in my city that's known to have some of the be ...(more)
How much progress have you been able to make with rehab?
Through aggressive rehab I would say that I'm pretty close to perfect with my shoulder. I'm totally comfortable climbing 5.12 with my non operated on shoulder. Without surgery I feel a little weak reaching straight overhead as far as possible (i.e. if I was trying to dead point a crimp that was right above me and just within my reach), which makes sense because obviously I don't have the same "suction" in my shoulder without a full labrum.
What is your overall recommendation on surgery for this condition?
IMO if you wanna climb hard surgery is your best bet, but I think (assuming its not a brutal tear) you could probably get by without if you took your rehab very seriously. I would really recommend talking to a couple good orthopedic surgeons/sports physicians/physiotherapists/biomechanics specialists about this. But from what I've read, surgery will get you back to 99%.