Toronto Raptors

Pascal Siakam: Expert medical analysis on torn labrum injury, surgery and recovery for Toronto Raptors star

Major news has developed for the Toronto Raptors in what has been an otherwise quiet offseason so far.

The team Friday announced that Pascal Siakam recently underwent successful surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, suffered in a May 8 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The 27-year-old is expected to make a full recovery but was given an expected timetable of five months before he is able to return to action.

Siakam, who averaged 21.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game last season, is likely to miss the beginning of the 2021-22 NBA season, as his recovery timetable would indicate a return to action in November at the earliest.

The upcoming season is reported to begin in October.

For more information on the nature of labral tears, as well as the corresponding surgery and rehab, we reached out to our medical expert, Dr. Michael S. George of the KSF Orthopaedic Center in Houston, Texas, who shed more light on the situation that faces Toronto's one-time All-Star.

What is the labrum and how does it tear?

The labrum is the flexible cartilage on the edges of the shoulder socket, which is called the glenoid. The labrum is the attachment of the long head of the biceps tendon, as well as the ligaments in the shoulder that stabilize the ball and socket joint.

If you think of the glenoid like the face of a clock, a labral tear at 12 o'clock is called a SLAP tear - that is an acronym for Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior. A tear at 3 o'clock to 6 o'clock is called a Bankart tear.

Labral tears in athletes almost always occur from a traumatic injury, usually a force from the front to the arm in the throwing position, although some SLAP tears can be caused by overuse in overhead throwing athletes.

What impact do labral tears have on athletes?

Labral tears can often cause the shoulder to be unstable, sometimes to the point that the shoulder can repetitively come out of socket, which is called a dislocation, or partially out of socket, which is called a subluxation.

While some people can function just fine with a labral tear, most high-level athletes have enough symptoms that they need surgery to repair it.

How are labral tears repaired?

The surgery is typically arthroscopic, with small incisions and the labrum is repaired back down to the bone with a combination of sutures and dissolvable screws. A period of immobilization in a sling is required after surgery, followed by rehabilitation to regain strength and motion.

Total recovery is typically four to six months, although most surgeons will wait at least six months or more before clearance for contact sports.

What should be expected from Siakam upon his return?

The results of arthroscopic labral repair in athletes are excellent, with a high expectation for full recovery.

Once Siakam is fully recovered from surgery, he would be expected to return to his previous level of play. His recovery will likely extend into November or December, but at some point, he would be expected to return back to form.

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