Shoulder Labrum Tear

What is a labrum tear of the shoulder?

The labrum (latin word for lip) is the cartilage that forms as a ‘lip’ around the shoulder socket that helps to make the socket deeper and more stable and helps the smooth movement of the shoulder joint. It can become torn in a variety of ways.

How do labrum tears of the shoulder occur?

Labral tears can occur due to

  • Injury (such as a dislocation or near-dislocation)
  • Overuse
  • Degeneration
  • Sometimes that can be a normal variant in the labrum present from childhood

What are the symptoms of a labral tear in the shoulder?

Some people with a labrum tear can have no symptoms at all so we need to be very careful in attributing pain to a tear seen on a scan as it could be an incidental finding. Other people can experience

  • Shoulder instability of variable severity
  • A catching, locking, or grinding feeling that occurs only in certain positions
  • Loss of strength
  • Reduced range of motion

What is the treatment for a labrum tear in the shoulder?

Treatment depends on a range of factors including the size, location and duration of the labral tear. Some labral tears are seen as an incidental finding and not a cause of pain and therefore do not need any treatment. Others cause severe shoulder instability that may even require surgery. Some can cause excessive inflammation within the joint when they first occur but can be settled down with non-surgical treatment to become pain-free.

Why should I see a Sport and Exercsise Physician for a labrum tear in the shoulder?

A Sport and Exercise Physician has the experience and expertise to help determine if a labral tear is indeed the cause of your pain and what the appropriate management for your particular tear is based on size, location, duration and severity (as well as the sports and activities that you do). Your physician will either treat you appropriately themselves or help guide the management of your physiotherapist or surgeon as deemed appropriate.

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