The shoulder is a complex joint and it is susceptible to a wide range of injuries. Shoulder labrum tears are just one type of injury that can cause pain and instability.
So, what are shoulder labrum tears and how can you tell if you are suffering with this type of injury?
What is the shoulder labrum?
The labrum of the shoulder is there to reinforce the ball and socket joint. It is made of cartilage fibrous tissue, and it is where the ligaments attach that support the socket. It basically acts as a suction cup for the joint, keeping it in place.
The shoulder labrum is largely responsible for keeping the shoulder stable. Therefore, if it tears, it can lead to shoulder instability as well as pain. The question is, what causes the joint to tear?
There are a number of reasons why the labrum might tear. The most common causes include overuse of the shoulder, repetitive motions and trauma. Those who play sports are particularly susceptible to a torn shoulder labrum.
It is also important to note that there are different types of shoulder labrum tears you can experience. The type of tear you have will determine how it needs to be treated.
Understanding the different types of tears
There are different types of labrum tears you can experience. The most common types of labrum tears include SLAP and Bankart tears.
SLAP tears are common in athletes and they occur where the shoulder connects to the bicep at the top of the upper arm. These types of tears tend to be caused by quick-snap, high energy movements.
Bankart tears are most common in younger patients and they tend to mostly occur after a dislocation of the shoulder. When the joint comes out of its socket, its capsule can pull down onto the lower labrum, causing it to tear. As the labrum is now unstable, it could cause the shoulder to dislocate again.
How are shoulder labrum tears treated?
There are different types of treatments available to repair a labrum tear. Surgery isn’t always necessary depending upon the severity of the tear.
If it is minor, rest and physical therapy may be all that is needed to treat the issue. This is especially true in the case of SLAP tears, which typically prescribe rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. Minor Bankart tears with dislocation can also be treated with rest and physiotherapy.
For more severe tears, surgery may be required. It is typically used as a last resort and an arthroscopy method is used. In older patients, non-surgical treatment is typically advised, especially if they don’t engage in physical activity. However, younger patients may want to consider surgery if they plan on playing sports.
Overall, shoulder labrum tears are a common injury and they vary in severity. If you suspect you have a shoulder labrum tear, it is important to seek an accurate diagnosis from a shoulder specialist. They will be able to identify the best course of treatment if a tear is diagnosed.