Pronounced: Lay-bral Tear, Shoulder
A shoulder labral tear is an injury to the cartilage in the shoulder joint. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The ball is the end of the arm bone (humerus). This ball fits into the bowl-shaped socket of the shoulder (glenoid). Cartilage lines the socket to keep movement smooth. When the cartilage tears it is called a shoulder labral tear.
If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor promptly.
Shoulder labral tears occur from an injury or through long-term wear and tear. Common causes include the following:
These factors increase your chance of a labral tear. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to a labral tear. They may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will likely be referred to a specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon.
Tests may include the following:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
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, 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 cartilage may be removed or sewn together. Your surgeon may also use wires or tacks to reattach any torn tendons.
After surgery you will be given a sling to wear for three to four weeks. Once the sling is removed you will work with a physical therapist to gradually strengthen your arm muscles and increase your motion.
of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Arthroscopy Association of North America
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Labral Tear Shoulder. Arthroscopy Association of North America website. Available at: http://www.aana.org/LabralTearShoulder.aspx . Accessed November 3, 2008.
Labral Tears. Internet Society of Orthopaedic Surgery & Trauma website. Available at: http://www.orthoga... . Accessed November 3, 2008.
Shoulder Joint Tear (Glenoid Labrum Tear). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00426 . Accessed November 3, 2008.
What is a labrum/labral tear? Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsortho.org/labrum_tear.html . Accessed November 3, 2008.
Last reviewed September 2012 by John C. Keel, MD
Last Updated: 09/28/2012
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