Background: The shoulder is the second most frequently injured joint after the knee in rugby players and labral tears appear to be common. There is limited data available in the literature regarding the mechanisms of posterior labral injury in rugby players and the management of these injuries.
Objective: The aim of this study is to report the clinical presentation, arthroscopic findings, surgical technique for repair, and the functional outcome in elite English rugby players with isolated posterior labral injuries.
Study design: Case series (level IV evidence)
Materials and methods: Over a 5-year period we surgically treated 142 elite rugby players, of whom 11 (7.8%) had isolated posterior labral injuries. All these 11 patients had significant contact injury. Only three (24%) patients had a true posterior shoulder dislocation. Pre- and postoperative assessment included Constant score, Oxford shoulder score, and Oxford instability score. We also assessed the time taken to return to preinjury level of fitness and the complications of surgery.
Results: Average follow-up was for 32 months (range 17-54 months). The mean Constant score improved from 66 to 99. The Oxford score indicated improvement, decreasing from 33 to 18; similarly, the Oxford instability score also decreased from 52.2 to 12.3. Return to playing rugby at peak level was at a mean of 4.3 months after arthroscopic repair.
Conclusion: Successful clinical results and rapid return to play can be achieved by appropriate early arthroscopic repair and supervised accelerated rehabilitation for posterior labral tears in elite rugby players.
Keywords: Arthroscopic repair; contact athletes; posterior labral injury; return to sport; rugby.