A shoulder labral tear is tear of the labrum. The labrum is the tissue that helps hold the end of the arm bone, known as the humerus, in place.The socket of the shoulder joint is extremely shallow, and very unstable. This means that the bones of the shoulder are not held in place adequately. Thus, the shoulder joint has a cuff of cartilage called a labrum that forms a cup for the end of the arm bone to move within.
The labrum circles the shallow shoulder socket to make the socket deeper. This cuff of cartilage makes the shoulder joint much more stable, and allows for a very wide range of movements.
The labrum is made of a thick tissue that is susceptible to injury with trauma to the shoulder joint. If you have injured your shoulder, a labral tear may be the culprit.
Shoulder labral tears occur from an injury or through long-term wear and tear. Common causes include the following:
A violent overhead reach, such as when trying to stop a fall or slide
Factors that may increase your chance of a labral tear include:
Participation in certain sports, such as:
Falling onto your shoulder
Repetitive movements of the shoulder
Lifting heavy objects
Breaking a fall with your arms
Direct blow to the shoulder
Symptoms may include:
Shoulder and/or arm pain
Catching or loosening feeling of the shoulder
Loss of shoulder range of motion
Weakness of shoulder and/or arm
Pain with shoulder movement
Popping or grinding sensation
Achiness of the shoulder
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Imaging tests to evaluate the shoulder and surrounding structures may include:
Treatment options include the following:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Rest, heat, and/or ice
Physical therapy to strengthen muscles
Generally, this treatment is tried for several weeks. If there is no improvement, surgery is considered. Your doctor may also inject a steroid directly into your shoulder to decrease inflammation and pain.
In a shoulder arthroscopy, a surgeon inserts a thin, lighted tube through a small incision to view the injury and fix it. Small instruments are threaded through this tube. The torn ligament/tissue may be removed or sewn together. Wires or tacks may also be used to reattach any torn tendons.
After surgery, you will be given a sling to wear for up to 4 weeks. When the sling is removed, you will work with a physical therapist to gradually strengthen your arm muscles and increase your motion.
To help reduce your chance of a shoulder labral tear:
Use the proper technique when playing sports.
Avoid putting yourself at risk for trauma to the shoulder area.
Perform stretching and strengthening exercises that target the shoulder area.