A shoulder labral tear is tear of the labrum. The labrum is the tissue that helps hold the end of the arm bone in place.
In some people, it may be caused by the normal aging process. In others, it may be caused by trauma from:
This problem is more common in men. Other things that may raise your risk are:
Problems may be:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the shoulder and arm. You may need to see a doctor who treats bones.
It will take 4 to 6 weeks for most people to heal. The goals of treatment are to manage pain and support the shoulder as it heals. This may include:
Some people may need surgery when other methods do not help. This can be done with shoulder arthroscopy. A thin, lighted tube is inserted through a small incision in the shoulder. Small instruments are also passed through the opening. The torn ligament or tissue is removed or sewn together. Wires or tacks may be used to reattach any torn tendons.
Doing stretching and strengthening exercises that target the shoulder can help lower the risk of this injury.
Arthroscopy Association of North America
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Calcei JG, Boddapati V, et al. Diagnosis and Treatment of Injuries to the Biceps and Superior Labral Complex in Overhead Athletes. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2018 Mar;11(1):63-71.
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 December 5, 2019.
Shoulder Joint Tear (Glenoid Labrum Tear). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00426. Updated October 2017. Accessed December 5, 2019.
What is a labrum/labral tear? Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsortho.org/labrum_tear.html. Accessed December 5, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS Last Updated: 7/14/2020