Labral Tear Shoulder

What is Labral Tear Shoulder?

A rim of thick cartilage tissue that surrounds the edge of the shoulder socket is called the shoulder or glenoid. The labrum helps the shoulder to stay stable. The shoulder joint ligaments, one of the tendons of the bicep muscle, and the shoulder joint capsule etc are attached to the labrum. Injuries to the labrum cause labral tear. Labrum tear can be of different types. In other words, labrum tear can occur due to different types of trauma and constant physical strains. Natural wear and tear that happens over time may also cause labral tear in people.

What are the causes of shoulder labral tear

Direct injuries to the shoulder, such as a fall or a motor accident can cause shoulder labral tear. Over activity can also cause a tear in the labrum. Shoulder instability may also cause a tear in the shoulder labrum. Sports injuries act as one of the major causes of shoulder labral tear. Weightlifting and such sports activities strain the tendons and cause labral tear.

What are the symptoms?

Some of the common symptoms of shoulder labral tear include:

  • Catching sensation or sharp pop in the shoulder while making certain movements
  • Severe pain
  • Shoulder instability
  • Slip of shoulders in making certain kinds of movements

How Labral Tear of Shoulder is diagnosed?

Based on the medical history, symptom analysis and physical examination, the doctor will go for further diagnostic procedures to confirm labral tear. The labral tears may not be seen even in the MRI scan. So, the doctor may suggest for a CT scan. When the doctor feels it difficult to diagnose the labral tear with the help of MRI or CT, he/she may suggest an examination using arthroscope. In this procedure, the doctor will insert an arthroscope through a tiny incision on the shoulder joint. The arthroscope, which has been connected to the big screen outside will show the tear (if any) visible.

Treatment for shoulder labral tear

Both, nonsurgical and surgical treatment options are available for treating shoulder labral tear.

Nonsurgical Treatments:

To control the pain, the doctor will first prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to the patient. If the pain can’t be controlled with the medication, the doctor may even suggest a cortisone injection. The doctor may suggest physical or occupational therapies to ease the pain and improve the shoulder joint movements. Strengthening exercises are good to improve the shoulder blade muscles, whereby stabilising the shoulder. The therapy treatment should be done for a period of four to six weeks. After that, the patient will be able to resume normal activities without any difficulties.

Surgical Treatments:

If all the other nonsurgical options fail to ease the pain and discomforts, surgery has been suggested. The common surgical treatment for shoulder labral tear is arthroscope. Smaller tear can  repair through Labral Debridement. It is the process of suturing the tear with the help of an arthroscope. It can also be done as an open procedure. With the coming of arthroscopy, open procedure have become very rare. An arthroscopic procedure needs less time and can be done with fewer complications when compared to the open procedure.

If the tear is larger, the patient will experience shoulder instability. In such cases, the labral tear will need to be removed. In the procedure, the doctor will reattach the labrum from the shoulder joint using an arthroscope.

Complications and recovery

Non-surgical treatments will rarely have certain complications. An arthroscopic surgery may have the following complications:

  • Neurologic complications
  • Infection
  • Thromboembolic complications
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blood clots

There are many factors based on which, the recovery period differs. However, it may take 4-6 weeks to get the labrum re-attached itself to the bone rim. Other 4-6 weeks are necessary to get the labrum strong enough. It is important to avoid strenuous physical activities during the recovery period.

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