A Bankart tear is a particular injury to a part of the shoulder joint which is known as the labrum. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, very similar to the hip; however, the socket of the shoulder joint is very narrow, and thus inherently unstable. To compensate for the narrow socket, the shoulder joint has a cuff of cartilage which is known as the labrum that forms a deeper socket for the ball of the top of the arm bone (humerus) to move within. This cuff of cartilage makes the shoulder joint much more firm, yet allows for a very wide range of movements (in fact, the range of movements of your shoulder far go beyond any other joint in the body).
Signs of a Bankart Tear
When the labrum of the shoulder joint is torn, the stability of the shoulder joint may be compromised. A Bankart tear happens when an individual has a shoulder dislocation. As the shoulder comes out of joint, it usually tears the labrum, particularly in younger patients.
Characteristic symptoms of a Bankart tear include:
Most young patients (under the age of 35) who withstand a shoulder dislocation will have a Bankart tear; hence, there is a high suspicion of this injury whenever a young patient dislocates their shoulder. On investigation, patients will frequently have a sense their shoulder is about to dislocate if their arm is placed behind their head.
X-rays are sometimes normal, but they may show damage to the bone called a Hill-Sachs lesion. This is a divot of bone that was damaged when the shoulder dislocation occurred. An MRI may also be attained in patients who have dislocated their shoulder. Bankart tears do not every time show up well on MRI scans. When a MRI is performed with an injection of contrast solution, a Bankart tear is much more likely to be seen.
Treatment of a Bankart Tear
There are two general options for the treatment of a Bankart tear. One option is to let the arm to rest, and the inflammation to lessen with the use of a sling. This is generally followed by physical therapy to recover motion of the extremity. The potential downside of this selection is that people who dislocate a shoulder once are much more expected to dislocate the shoulder again. The other option is to execute surgery to repair the torn labrum. When operation is performed, the torn ligament is reattached to the socket of the shoulder. The results of operation are generally very good, with over 95% of patients returning to their activities without any additional dislocations.