• Labral Tear

    (Glenoid Labrum Tear; Labral Tear, Shoulder)

    Definition

    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.
    Shoulder Joint
    Shoulder joint repair
    The tool and arrow point to the labrum (cartilage) of the glenoid.
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    Causes

    Shoulder labral tears occur from an injury or through long-term wear and tear. Common causes include the following:

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of a labral tear include:
      Participation in certain sports, such as:
      • Baseball (pitchers)
      • Golf
      • Weightlifting
      • Tennis
    • Falling onto your shoulder
    • Repetitive movements of the shoulder
    • Lifting heavy objects
    • Breaking a fall with your arms
    • Direct blow to the shoulder

    Symptoms

    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

    Diagnosis

    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

    Talk 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:

    Medical Treatment

    • 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. The doctor may also inject a steroid directly into the shoulder to decrease inflammation and pain.

    Surgical Treatment

    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, a sling will need to be worn. When the sling is removed, a physical therapist can help to gradually strengthen the arm muscles and increase motion.
    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, a sling will need to be worn. When the sling is removed, a physical therapist can help to gradually strengthen the arm muscles and increase motion.

    Prevention

    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.

    RESOURCES

    Arthroscopy Association of North America http://www.aana.org

    Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org

    Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org

    References

    Labral Tears. Internet Society of Orthopaedic Surgery & Trauma website. Available at: http://www.orthogate.org/patient-education/shoulder/labral-tears.html. Updated September 4, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2017.

    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 August 24, 2017.

    What is a labrum/labral tear? Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsortho.org/labrum%5Ftear.html. Accessed August 24, 2017.

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