What is a labrum tear?
The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. The labrum is a lip of connective tissue where the shoulder ligaments connect to the edge of the socket that holds the ball of the upper arm bone in the socket of the shoulder girdle. When this connective tissue is damaged it is a labrum tear.
How does it occur?
The labrum can be torn in many ways but some examples include:
Dislocating the shoulder
A fall onto the arm
A fast jerking motion
Lifting a heavy object
Sports with repetitive high velocity overhead movement such as throwing
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of a labral tear can include:
Shoulder/upper arm pain
Clicking, catching or popping in the shoulder (usually at a specific place in the range of motion)
How is it diagnosed?
A physical examination will be performed checking for pain, tenderness, motions that reproduce pain or clicking, loss of motion or excessive motion.
Doctors may order x-rays, an MRI or an arthrogram (dye is injected in the shoulder prior to imaging)
In some cases arthroscopic surgery may be needed to fully view the shoulder
What is the treatment?
Physical therapy may be ordered depending on the size and extent of the labral tear. Therapy may include rehabilitation exercise, modalities for pain and inflammation, education, mobilization and stretching.
In some cases surgery is necessary and it is typically followed by physical therapy
At home icing and taking prescribed medications may help