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Bankart Lesion

What is a Bankart lesion?

This is an injury to your shoulder joint, which leads to having shoulder instability. It is also may be referred to as a labral tear. The reason is that it is characterized by having a tear in you labrum, which is a ring of cartilage that stabilizes the bone of your upper arm where it articulates with your shoulder. These types of injuries are especially common in younger people under the age of thirty. When you have this type of lesion you may experience recurrent dislocations of your shoulder. Your shoulder may also feel slippery or loose. Depending on what caused your Bankart lesion you may also have other injuries in the joint.

This type of lesion is named after Arthur Sydney Blundell Bankart, who was an English orthopedic surgeon.

Symptoms of Bankart Lesion

When you have a Bankart lesion, your shoulder joint will feel unstable and is extremely painful. Some of the other symptoms you might experience can include:

  • Having a sense of instability
  • Repeat dislocations
  • Aching of your shoulder
  • Catching sensations


The most common reason to have this injury is due to a shoulder dislocation. If your shoulder is pushed too far forward and down you can tear the cartilage in the joint as it dislocates. It can also happen due to repetitive movement of your shoulder, such as being a baseball pitcher.


To determine if you have a Bankart lesion or not the physician will order medical imaging studies such as an x-ray or MRI. The physician will also do a physical examination and take a full medical history to learn more about what symptoms you are experiencing. When the physician is doing a physical exam and tries to place the arm behind the head you may have the sensation of your shoulder about to dislocate.


Once you have been diagnosed with a Bankart lesion there are two treatment options, which include conservative care or surgery.

Conservative care

With this treatment, your shoulder will be rested and the strain on it will be reduced to allow your shoulder to heal on its own. To help rest it your shoulder it is usually supported using a sling. You will also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications for the inflammation and pain. Sometimes, with sufficient rest, the cartilage will be able to repair itself, resolving the tear but with this treatment there is always the chance of another dislocation.


Usually most patients will require surgery, referred to as a Bankart lesion repair, to correct the tear. After you have surgery you will need to wear a sling and follow the aftercare instructions to help reduce the risk of reinjury.


After having surgery your rehabilitation begins almost immediately because within the first few days you will start doing passive range of motion of your shoulder. Following surgery for the first four to six weeks the focus will on getting back as much range of motion that you can while you are protecting the surgical repair. During this period you should start to see the strength of your shoulder improving and a decrease in pain. Sometime during this time frame you will start to focus on increasing the strength of your shoulder but when will depend on your progress. As the strength in your shoulder improves your functional level will also. When following this program and time frame you should be able to return to your full level of activity as before you had a Bankart lesion without having the risk of shoulder dislocation. Over ninety percent of patients who have chosen surgery do not have further dislocations.


Whether you use conservative care or have to have surgery once the Bankart lesion is repaired you should have physical therapy. Having physical therapy will help to strengthen your shoulder joint so you are less likely to experience injury again. By undergoing physical therapy you can also help to resolve the stiffness and pain in the joint that can develop after prolonged disuse.

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