Labral Tears of the Shoulder
Labrum Tear of the Shoulder
Shoulder Pain Treatment in St. Louis, MO
As a ball-and-socket joint, the shoulder requires the power of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage to hold its parts in place. When something goes wrong with any of these components within the shoulder, pain, inflammation, and restricted movement can result.
Take the case of labral tears.
Protective, rubbery cartilage called labrum lines the rim of the “socket” (glenoid cavity) of the shoulder blade. A labral tear occurs when this cartilage is torn or damaged. Because the labrum helps to keep the “ball” of the upper arm (humerus) in place within the socket, a labral tear can lead to shoulder instability and dislocation.
Labral tears can occur due to injury, especially due to repetitive stress, or deterioration over time. Those who participate in throwing sports – such as baseball, football, tennis, etc. – are more prone to these types of shoulder injuries.
Shoulder Labrum Tear Symptoms
Symptoms of a labral tear include pain at the top of the shoulder (especially with overhead movements), pain that feels more like a deep ache than sharp pangs, and worsening shoulder weakness and sports performance.
Types of Shoulder Labrum Tears
The labrum will tear either above (superior) or below (inferior) the middle of the glenoid socket of the shoulder. It can also occur either toward the front (anterior) of the shoulder or the back (posterior) of the shoulder.
Common labral tears of the shoulder include:
A superior labrum anterior and posterior (SLAP) tear means the cartilage lining the ridge of the glenoid cavity of the shoulder blade is torn at the top of the cavity – where the biceps tendon connects to the shoulder blade – in the area toward the front and back of the shoulder.
Bankart tears occur in the bottom area of the glenoid socket and involve the inferior glenohumeral ligament. Labrum tears that occur here are more likely to result in shoulder dislocations.
Much more rare than either a SLAP or Bankart tear, a posterior labrum tear occurs when the labrum at the back of the shoulder becomes stuck to the underside of the rotator cuff – a condition sometimes referred to as an internal impingement of the shoulder.
Treatment of Glenoid Labral Tears
Whether or not you require surgery will depend on the type of labral tear you have and the intensity of your symptoms. In fact, many people have labral tears at the shoulder and are completely asymptomatic. However, it is important to see an orthopedic specialist if you suspect a labral tear in order to not only address your concerns, but to make sure there is not another issue contributing to the problem that may also require treatment.
Nonsurgical treatment options include rest, physical therapy, and medications. Addressing inflammation can sometimes result in the alleviation of other symptoms. That is why your orthopedic physician may recommend pain management therapies or other conservative treatment methods before considering surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum.
If you require surgery, minimally invasive arthroscopy may be used instead of a traditional, open procedure (depending on the extent of damage at your shoulder). Surgery may involve removing damaged areas of the labrum as well as repairing or replacing damaged ligaments or other tissue.
You can expect to have your arm in a sling for a few weeks, and range-of-motion exercises will likely be prescribed in order to prevent post-op shoulder stiffness.
Orthopedic Doctor in St. Louis, MO
Are you experiencing shoulder pain that may be caused by a labral tear? Contact the orthopedic surgeon renowned for his nonsurgical and surgical treatment of knee, shoulder, and elbow injuries – including labrum tears of the shoulder. Call Jason Browdy, MD in St. Louis, Missouri at (314) 991-2150 or request an appointment now.