Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal reported that Memphis Grizzlies’ superstar Rudy Gay underwent surgery Friday for a partial dislocation of his left shoulder. Gay was injured in a game February 15 and underwent rehabilitation for approximately five weeks. The team and player decided recently that he had not progressed enough to return to play, so he underwent surgery. Dr. James Andrews reportedly performed the procedure, and Tillery notes that the surgery was successful. The forward is expected to be out for 4-6 months but be available by the team’s training camp in the fall.

In reading this report, it sounds to me like Gay suffered a subluxation of his shoulder, where the humeral head partially slides out of the socket. The potential danger of these injuries, whether full dislocations or partial subluxations, is that an athlete can tear the labrum, or cartilage bumper, along the glenoid (the socket). If the labrum tears and does not heal appropriately, the shoulder can remain unstable and prevent return to sports. Surgery to repair the labrum and tighten the capsule can treat the problem and minimize the chance of recurrent instability. While these surgeries can almost always be done arthroscopically rather than through a large open incision, it is still a major surgery. Recovery from the procedure typically involves wearing a sling full time for 4-6 weeks and then progressing through a lengthy rehabilitation process with a sports physical therapist.

Read more about shoulder dislocations, recurrent instability, and surgical treatment of these injuries in the Sports Injury Locator.