Accessibility Tools

What is a labrum tear? Comprehensive Answers from Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston

A labrum tear is a common injury. The shoulder labrum is a small piece of flexible connective tissue that helps secure the shoulder joint in the socket. (There’s also a labrum in the hip and the knee.) These tissues can slowly wear down over time, eventually becoming more prone to tearing. Or, they can suddenly rupture as a result of a direct impact, such as a collision or a fall.

What are the symptoms of a torn labrum in the shoulder?

When the labrum tears, it may not cause immediate pain. Some people experience generalized discomfort in their shoulder, but many have a hard time pinpointing exactly where the pain is coming from.

Other potential symptoms of a labrum tear include:

  • Weakness and instability
  • A popping, clicking or grinding sensation
  • A dull ache
  • Sharp pain when lifting the arm over the head

These symptoms tend to persist until the damaged tissue heals.

Torn labrum treatment

Some labral tears are able to heal on their own. Patients are typically advised to avoid activities that place stress on their upper body, while taking anti-inflammatory medications for pain and participating in physical therapy to regain their strength and range of motion. This approach tends to be most effective for partial tears, in which the edges of the tissues are frayed but not completely detached.

Complete labral tears (or partial tears that don’t heal on their own) may require surgical treatment. Orthopedic surgeons can often repair a torn labrum in the shoulder through a type of minimally invasive surgery called shoulder arthroscopy. In this procedure, small instruments are inserted through a small incision. The torn edges of the labrum are reattached, and if any other ligaments are also damaged, they are repaired at the same time.

At Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, our shoulder injury specialists provide a comprehensive range of treatments for labral tears and other similar conditions. We can diagnose and evaluate your issues, then make a personalized recommendation that includes stretching and strengthening exercises, medications, injections, physical therapy and – if necessary – even surgical repair. For more information about our approach to labrum tear treatment, contact us today.