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What is a Labrum?

In the shoulder, there lies specialized cartilage tissue called the Labrum. The Labrum helps to reinforce the shoulder joint. The socket of the shoulder, known as the glenoid, meets the humerus bone of the arm, with the Labrum cushioning the area in between. The labrum lies at the center of the shoulder and acts as the anchor point for not only the ball-and-socket joint, but the ligaments, rotator cuff tendons and muscles as well, greatly contributing to shoulder stability and preventing shoulder dislocation.

When the Labrum tears, it can cause patients to suffer from shoulder pain or instability. Labral tears can occur due to acute traumatic injuries, such as a fall or a direct blow to the shoulder, or as a result of repetitive shoulder motions or overuse. Athletes involved in sports that require repetitive overhead motions, such as throwing, swimming, or weightlifting, may be particularly susceptible to shoulder labral tears.

Symptoms of Shoulder Labral Tears

The symptoms of a shoulder labral tear can vary depending on the severity and location of the tear but commonly include:

  1. Pain: Persistent pain in the shoulder, which may worsen with certain movements or activities. The pain may be sharp, aching, or deep within the shoulder joint.
  2. Catching or Locking Sensation: Some individuals with labral tears may experience a catching or locking sensation in the shoulder joint. This sensation can occur when moving the arm in certain positions.
  3. Shoulder Instability: A labral tear can cause shoulder instability, leading to a feeling of the shoulder slipping or popping out of place.
  4. Limited Range of Motion: Decreased range of motion in the shoulder joint, especially with overhead movements or reaching across the body.
  5. Weakness: Weakness or decreased strength in the shoulder, which can affect daily activities and athletic performance.
  6. Clicking or Popping: Some individuals may hear clicking or popping sounds in the shoulder during movement.

If you suspect a shoulder labral tear, it is important to seek medical evaluation from a healthcare professional, such as an orthopedic specialist or a sports medicine physician. Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, medical history review, and imaging tests, such as MRI or arthroscopy, which can provide detailed visualization of the labrum and surrounding structures.

Treatments For Shoulder Labral Tears

Treatment options for shoulder labral tears depend on various factors, including the size, location, and severity of the tear, as well as the individual’s activity level and overall health. Conservative treatment options may include:

  1. Rest and Activity Modification: Avoid activities that worsen symptoms and allow time for the tear to heal.
  2. Physical Therapy: Specific exercises to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, improve shoulder stability, and restore range of motion.
  3. Pain Management: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or pain-relieving medications may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.
  4. Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be used to reduce pain and inflammation.

In cases where conservative measures are unsuccessful or for more severe tears, surgical intervention may be recommended. Surgical options can include arthroscopic repair, where the torn labrum is reattached using sutures, or in some cases, the damaged portion of the labrum may be removed (labral debridement).

If you would like to speak to an Orthopedic Upper Extremity Specialist in North Texas, give us a call at 817-697-4038, or contact us over the web. Telemedicine appointments are also available.