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Shoulder Joint  
Shoulder joint repair

The tool and arrow point to the cartilage of the glenoid.

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Definition  

A shoulder labral tear is tear of the labrum. The labrum is the tissue that holds the end of the arm bone, known as the humerus, in place.

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Causes  

Shoulder labral tears occur from an injury or through long-term wear and tear. Common causes include the following:

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Risk Factors  

Factors that may increase your chance of a labral tear include:

  • Participation in certain sports, such as:
    • Baseball pitchers
    • Golf
    • Weightlifting
    • Tennis
  • Falling onto your shoulder
  • Repetitive movements of the shoulder
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Breaking a fall with your arms
  • Direct blow to the shoulder
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Symptoms  

Symptoms may include:

  • Shoulder and/or arm pain
  • Catching or loosening feeling of the shoulder
  • Loss of shoulder range of motion
  • Weakness to shoulder and/or arm
  • Pain with shoulder movement
  • Popping or grinding sensation
  • Achiness of the shoulder
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Diagnosis  

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Imaging tests to evaluate the shoulder and surrounding structures may include:

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Treatment  

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:

Medical Treatment  

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Rest, heat, and/or ice
  • Physical therapy to strengthen muscles

Generally, this treatment is tried for several weeks. If there is no improvement, surgery is considered. Your doctor may also inject a steroid directly into your shoulder to decrease inflammation and pain.

Surgical Treatment  

In a shoulder arthroscopy, your 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.

Rehabilitation  

After surgery, you will be given a sling to wear for up to 4 weeks. When the sling is removed, you will work with a physical therapist to gradually strengthen your arm muscles and increase your motion.

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Prevention  

To help reduce your chance of a shoulder labral tear:

  • Use the proper technique when playing sports
  • Avoid putting yourself at risk for trauma to the shoulder area
  • Perform stretching and strengthening exercises that target the shoulder area.