Labral Tears of the Shoulder

The shoulder is a large complex joint. The labrum is part of the shoulder and plays an important role. The labrum helps provide stability to an already unstable joint. Overuse or traumatic injuries play a role in tearing of the labrum. An injury involving a dislocation of the shoulder can also result in a tear of the labrum.

There are two common types of labral tears. Since the labrum surrounds the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder the injury can be to the superior (upper) or inferior (lower) labrum. A superior labral tear, also known as a SLAP lesion can involve the nearby biceps tendon. The inferior tear, also known as a Bankart’s lesion can involve the inferior glenohumeral ligament.

Causes
A direct blow to the shoulder
A direct fall into the shoulder
A fall onto an outstretched arm as if trying to break your fall
Overuse activities
Lifting a heavy object overhead
Reaching to the back of your car to pull forward a heavy bag/book bag

Symptoms
Pain with overhead motions
A popping or grinding sensation with shoulder movements
Pain when sleeping on the involved shoulder
Loss of motion to the shoulder
Feeling of weakness with movement of the shoulder

Treatment Options
A CT scan or MRI to show if there is a tear

Conservative treatment such as physical therapy or arthroscopic surgery. Physical therapy may be prescribed before surgery to restore strength/ROM before surgery to have an easier recovery after surgery.

What to Expect in Physical Therapy
Usually after a labral Repair you will remain in a sling up to 4 weeks. You will not be able to perform certain movements of your shoulder that your MD and physical therapist will explain to you. You may also have limitations in how far you can reach while the labrum is healing. Your physical therapist will prescribe a series of range of motion, stretching, and strengthening exercises based on your post-op surgical protocol in order to regain your ability to function.

Remember if you are in pain before/after surgery ICE your shoulder 10 minutes at a time every hour as needed.

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