A shoulder labral tear is tear of the labrum. The labrum is the tissue that helps hold the end of the arm bone, known as the humerus, in place.
Shoulder labral tears occur from an injury or through long-term wear and tear. Common causes include the following:
Factors that may increase your chance of a labral tear include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Imaging tests to evaluate the shoulder and surrounding structures may include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. You will likely be referred to a specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon. Treatment options include the following:
Generally, this treatment is tried for several weeks. If there is no improvement, surgery is considered. The doctor may also inject a steroid directly into the shoulder to decrease inflammation and pain.
In a shoulder arthroscopy, a surgeon inserts a thin, lighted tube through a small incision to view the injury and fix it. Small instruments are threaded through this tube. The torn ligament/tissue may be removed or sewn together. Wires or tacks may also be used to reattach any torn tendons.
After surgery, a sling will need to be worn. When the sling is removed, a physical therapist can help to gradually strengthen the arm muscles and increase motion.
Arthroscopy Association of North America
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Labral Tears. Internet Society of Orthopaedic Surgery & Trauma website. Available at: http://www.orthogate.org/patient-education/shoulder/labral-tears.html. Updated September 4, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2017.
Shoulder Joint Tear (Glenoid Labrum Tear). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00426. Updated January 2001. Accessed August 24, 2017.
What is a labrum/labral tear? Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsortho.org/labrum_tear.html. Accessed August 24, 2017.
Last reviewed August 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.