The glenoid labrum is a ring of thick tissue surrounding the bony cup of the shoulder. It is susceptible to injury with trauma to the shoulder joint. A labral tear occurs when there is damage to any area of the labrum, often a direct injury to the shoulder. Athletes are especially susceptible to labral tears. Workers who perform repetitive actions overhead are also at greater risk. The labrum may also become more brittle and fray as part of the aging process.
Symptoms of Labral Tear
- Dull throbbing ache in the shoulder joint
- Sharp popping or catching of the shoulder with movement
- Difficulty sleeping due to shoulder pain
- Pain with specific activities
- Shoulder instability
Labral tears are often difficult to see. An MRI is often used to diagnose a labral tear as magnetic waves show tendons, ligaments and bones in the shoulder area. Because MRI and CT diagnosis is also challenging, your doctor may use and arthroscope to confirm a labral tear. The tiny camera will be inserted into a small incision in the shoulder so the surgeon can see any tear to the labrum.
Treatment options for labral tears include a physical therapy program, pain control, anti-inflammatory medication and surgery. Surgical repair of a torn labrum typically yields the best results. Open procedures are rarely used, with most surgeons opting for refined arthroscopic techniques. Post-operative therapy is also needed to maximize range of motion.
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Jimmy Conway Introduction