What Is A Shoulder Labral Tear?
The labrum is cartilage tissue that holds the “ball” (humeral head) in the “socket” (glenoid).
A labral tear can occur with a lifting injury, fall on the arm, sudden pull on the arm or having the arm twisted at the shoulder joint. These movements can cause the labrum to tear away from the socket.
Shoulder Labral Tear Symptoms & Types Of Tears
When a labral tear occurs, it causes a locking, clicking or catching sensation in the joint. There usually is pain. Where the pain is felt depends on where the tear is. The joint may be stiff or have a limited range of motion.
The common shoulder labral tears are:
- SLAP Tears
A Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior (SLAP) tear is most commonly seen in overhead throwing athletes, such as baseball and tennis players. Other common causes include falling on an outstretched arm, falling on a shoulder, or lifting heavy objects repeatedly or too suddenly.
- Bankart Lesions
A Bankart lesion occurs when a shoulder dislocates. When the shoulder comes out of joint, the labrum is torn, and makes the shoulder more susceptible to future dislocations. Bankart tears are especially common in young athletes playing a variety of sports.
- Posterior Labral Tears
Posterior labral tears are less common, but sometimes seen in athletes who play sports that require them to push with their arms in front of them (e.g. a football offensive lineman).
How Are Shoulder Labral Tears Diagnosed?
Your doctor may suspect a labral tear based on your medical history. You will be asked questions about your pain and past injuries to your shoulder that may suggest labral damage.
Labral tears are difficult to see, even with an MRI so Dr. Goradia will often order an arthrogram where dye is injected in the shoulder prior to the MRI. This is known as an MRA.
Shoulder Labral Tear Treatment
If a patient has a first-time dislocation and is under the age of 25 years Dr. Goradia will discuss options of immediate surgery vs. trying a period of immobilization. The latest research shows that immobilization in external rotation (with the arm rotated out) is best if non-surgical treatment is attempted. However there is still a 75-90% risk of recurrent dislocations.
For individuals over 40 years of age that have a first-time dislocation Dr. Goradia bases his recommendations on the patients’ activity level and work requirements. Many patients can be treated without surgery unless they have strenuous hobbies or work.
The middle group of patients, from 25-40 years of age are in a gray area. Again, it is important to note their activity level, how loose their shoulder feels during the examination and how large the tear appears on the MRA.
Regardless of age, if patients have recurrent dislocations or are apprehensive about participating in activities because of their shoulder, Dr. Goradia will discuss surgery.
Why G2 Orthopedics and Sports Medicine?
Whether working with recreational athletes, injured workers, or any other individuals, Dr.Goradia provides each patient with the quality of care given to professional athletes.
Dr. Goradia is a leading knee and shoulder specialist and one of the first U.S. orthopedic surgeons to be certified in sports medicine as a subspecialty.
When you come to Dr. Goradia you don’t get shuffled among various doctors or PA’s. You are personally treated by Dr. Goradia whose expertise and orthopedic success is extensive.