Shoulder Labral Tear
(Glenoid Labrum Tear; Labral Tear, Shoulder)
DefinitionA shoulder labral tear is tear of the labrum. The labrum is the tissue that holds the end of the arm bone, known as the humerus, in place.
|The tool and arrow point to the cartilage of the glenoid.|
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CausesShoulder labral tears occur from an injury or through long-term wear and tear. Common causes include the following:
- Dislocated shoulder
- A violent overhead reach, such as when trying to stop a fall or slide
Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your chance of a labral tear include:
- Participation in certain sports, such as:
- Baseball pitchers
- Falling onto your shoulder
- Repetitive movements of the shoulder
- Lifting heavy objects
- Breaking a fall with your arms
- Direct blow to the shoulder
SymptomsSymptoms may include:
- Shoulder and/or arm pain
- Catching or loosening feeling of the shoulder
- Loss of shoulder range of motion
- Weakness to shoulder and/or arm
- Pain with shoulder movement
- Popping or grinding sensation
- Achiness of the shoulder
DiagnosisYour doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Imaging tests to evaluate the shoulder and surrounding structures may include:
TreatmentTalk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. You will likely be referred to a specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon. Treatment options include the following:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Rest, heat, and/or ice
- Physical therapy to strengthen muscles
Surgical TreatmentIn a shoulder arthroscopy, your 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. In a shoulder arthroscopy, your 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.
RehabilitationAfter 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.
PreventionTo 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.
Arthroscopy Association of North America
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Labral Tears. Internet Society of Orthopaedic Surgery & Trauma website. Available at: http://www.orthogate.org/patient-education/shoulder/labral-tears.html. Updated July 27, 2006. Accessed November 21, 2013.
Shoulder Joint Tear (Glenoid Labrum Tear). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00426. Updated January 2001. Accessed November 21, 2013.
What is a labrum/labral tear? Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsortho.org/labrum%5Ftear.html. Accessed November 21, 2013.
- Reviewer: John C. Keel, MD; Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 11/21/2013