What is a Labrum Tear?

The shoulder joint is in the shape of a ball-socket joint. This joint socket which the shoulder possesses is called the glenoid. The glenoid is surrounded by a fibre filled cartilaginous tissue known as the labrum.

The labrum around the shoulder is at a high risk of damage when the shoulder is subjected to excessive repetitive movements.

Let us try to answer the question, what is a labrum tear?


What is a Labrum Tear?: The glenoid joint in the shoulder is known to be extremely shallow making the shoulder joint very unstable. The labrum acts as a stabiliser and allows the shoulder to be utterly flexible (shoulder joint is the most flexible joint in the body).

Falling exclusively on an outstretched arm, a direct injury to the shoulder’s glenoid joint, placing excessive pressure on the shoulder (especially when trying to escape falls and slides) and repetitive pressure on the shoulders (the case of weightlifters) could cause the labrum tissue to tear and this is usually called a labral tear.

Symptoms of a Labral Tear: A labral tear could occur either below (inferior) or above (superior) the glenoid socket.

The major symptoms of a labral tear are:

  • an aching shoulder pain
  • feeling a loose shoulder
  • grinding and rubbing sensations in the shoulder
  • weakening of the shoulder
  • pain while performing daily activities including night sleep
  • a decrease in the flexibility and the range of movements
  • experiencing a shoulder block during movement of the arm

Factors that Would Increase the Risk of Labral Tears: People who perform activities that lay an excessive pressure on the shoulder joints and involve repetitive movements of the shoulder are know to suffer from labral tears.

Weight lifters, golfers, tennis players, cricketers and baseball pitchers are at a risk of suffering from labral tears.

Types of Labral Tears: There are basically three types of labral tears that could possibly occur.

  1. SLAP Tears: Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior abbreviates to SLAP. This type of lesion is usually experienced by cricketers, tennis players and baseball pitchers. A SLAP tear also involves the biceps tendon and usually occurs at the top of the glenoid socket.
  2. Bankart Lesions: The dislocation of a shoulder lead to bankart lesions. People who dislocate their shoulder are susceptible to bankart lesion tears quiet frequently.
  3. Posterior Labral Tears: Usually experienced by athletes but known to occur very rarely. In a posterior labral tear the labrum and the rotator cuff are adhered to one another causing the discomfort.

So, what is a labrum tear has been understood. It is also worth noting that labrum tears could be extremely painful and cause a hindrance in our day-to-day activities.

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