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Shoulder Labrum Repair: Post-Surgery Do’s and Don’ts

Shoulder labrum repair is a surgical procedure that aims to fix a tear or damage to the labrum, a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket. This type of injury is common among athletes who participate in sports that involve repetitive overhead motions, such as baseball, swimming, and tennis. While surgery is often necessary to restore stability and function to the shoulder joint, the recovery process can be challenging and requires careful adherence to post-surgery do’s and don’ts. In this article, we will explore the essential guidelines for a successful recovery after shoulder labrum repair.

1. Follow the Rehabilitation Program

After shoulder labrum repair surgery, a comprehensive rehabilitation program is crucial for a successful recovery. This program typically includes a combination of physical therapy exercises, pain management techniques, and gradual shoulder strengthening exercises. It is essential to follow the guidance of your healthcare provider or physical therapist and adhere to the prescribed exercises and timelines.

During the initial phase of rehabilitation, the focus is on pain management and gentle range of motion exercises. These exercises help reduce swelling, improve blood circulation, and prevent stiffness in the shoulder joint. As the healing progresses, the rehabilitation program will gradually introduce more challenging exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve stability.

It is important to note that each individual’s rehabilitation program may vary based on the severity of the injury and the surgeon’s recommendations. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider or physical therapist to develop a personalized rehabilitation plan.

2. Protect the Shoulder Joint

Protecting the shoulder joint during the recovery period is essential to prevent re-injury and promote proper healing. Here are some important do’s and don’ts to consider:


  • Wear a sling or immobilizer as instructed by your healthcare provider.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects or participating in activities that put excessive strain on the shoulder joint.
  • Use proper body mechanics when performing daily activities, such as reaching for objects or getting dressed.
  • Practice good posture to maintain proper alignment of the shoulder joint.


  • Avoid sudden or jerky movements of the shoulder.
  • Avoid sleeping on the operated shoulder.
  • Avoid carrying heavy bags or backpacks on the affected shoulder.
  • Avoid participating in contact sports or activities that may result in a fall or direct impact to the shoulder.

By following these guidelines, you can minimize the risk of re-injury and allow the shoulder joint to heal properly.

3. Manage Pain and Swelling

Pain and swelling are common after shoulder labrum repair surgery. Proper pain management techniques can help alleviate discomfort and promote a more comfortable recovery. Here are some strategies to manage pain and swelling:


Your healthcare provider may prescribe pain medication to manage post-surgery pain. It is important to take the medication as directed and report any side effects or concerns to your healthcare provider.

Ice Therapy:

Applying ice to the shoulder can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Use an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin cloth and apply it to the shoulder for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider regarding the frequency and duration of ice therapy.


Elevating the arm and shoulder can help reduce swelling. Use pillows or a reclining chair to keep the shoulder elevated above the heart level whenever possible.


Wearing a compression sleeve or bandage can help reduce swelling and provide support to the shoulder joint. However, it is important to ensure that the compression is not too tight, as it may restrict blood flow.

It is important to consult with your healthcare provider for specific pain management strategies and to discuss any concerns or unusual symptoms you may experience during the recovery process.

4. Gradually Resume Activities

As the shoulder heals and gains strength, it is important to gradually resume activities and sports. Rushing into activities too quickly can increase the risk of re-injury or complications. Here are some guidelines to follow when resuming activities:

Consult with Your Healthcare Provider:

Before returning to sports or any strenuous activities, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider or physical therapist. They can assess your progress, evaluate your shoulder’s stability, and provide guidance on when it is safe to resume specific activities.

Start with Gentle Range of Motion Exercises:

Before engaging in sports or intense physical activities, it is important to start with gentle range of motion exercises. These exercises help improve flexibility and gradually prepare the shoulder for more demanding movements.

Progress to Strengthening Exercises:

Once you have regained a full range of motion, your healthcare provider or physical therapist will guide you through a series of strengthening exercises. These exercises target the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint and help improve stability and function.

Listen to Your Body:

Pay attention to any pain, discomfort, or unusual sensations during activities. If you experience any pain or discomfort, it is important to stop the activity and consult with your healthcare provider.

Remember, the timeline for returning to activities may vary depending on the individual and the specific surgical procedure performed. It is crucial to follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and progress at a pace that allows for proper healing and recovery.

5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can significantly contribute to the success of your shoulder labrum repair surgery and overall well-being. Here are some important factors to consider:

Proper Nutrition:

A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients can support the healing process and provide the necessary building blocks for tissue repair. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains in your diet.

Stay Hydrated:

Drinking an adequate amount of water is essential for overall health and proper tissue hydration. It can also help prevent constipation, a common side effect of pain medication.

Quit Smoking:

Smoking can impair the healing process and increase the risk of complications. If you smoke, consider quitting or reducing your smoking habits before and after surgery.

Manage Stress:

Stress can negatively impact the healing process. Engage in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy.

By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can optimize your body’s ability to heal and recover after shoulder labrum repair surgery.


Shoulder labrum repair surgery is a complex procedure that requires careful post-surgery management to ensure a successful recovery. By following the rehabilitation program, protecting the shoulder joint, managing pain and swelling, gradually resuming activities, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can optimize your recovery and regain full function of your shoulder. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider or physical therapist for personalized guidance and support throughout the recovery process. With patience and adherence to the do’s and don’ts, you can achieve a successful outcome and return to your desired level of activity.

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