Torn Labrum Shoulder

Overview

Labrum related injuries are common and it’s not just the athletes that are prone to it. A torn labrum shoulder heals quickly if treated immediately otherwise it can cause long term issues with the shoulder joint.

The shoulder blade (scapula), the collarbone (clavicle), and the upper arm bone (humerus) are the 3 pillar bones that make up the shoulder joint.

The humeral head is attached to the socket of the scapula via the glenoid. But since the glenoid is shallow and the ball slightly larger, the labrum helps keep them in place providing much-needed stability to the shoulder joint. This means a severe tear in the labrum can lead to a dislocation.

Injury Causes

torn labrum shoulder

Source: HSS

Technically, the tear usually occurs when the labrum gets stuck in between the humerus and the glenoid. The continuous movement of the shoulder joint is one of the major reasons for the injury. For this reason, bowlers, baseball pitchers and weightlifters often suffer from a torn shoulder labrum.

Apart from this, any kind of trauma to the joint can also result in the tear. Here are a few examples of what might cause the trauma.

  • Falling to the ground with your arms outstretched, at a high speed/force
  • Being hit directly on the shoulder
  • Overstretching of the arm while lifting heavyweight
  • Being involved in a car accident
  • A sudden/jerky stop of the hands while in motion

Torn Labrum Shoulder Symptoms

If you’ve been hit on the shoulder or had an awkward fall and aren’t sure if the pain is due to a labrum tear or a just a slight strain, here are a few symptoms to watch out for.

  • Dislocation or any instability in the shoulder joint upon movement
  • A pop or catch sound during the fall or when moving the joint
  • Aggravation of the pain when lifting your hands over your head
  • Difficulty in moving your arm in full motion
  • Weakness in the joint

Diagnoses

Usually, a doctor would perform a few tests to examine the range of motion. While this helps to rule out a minor injury like a pinched nerve etc. an X-ray or MRI will be required to determine the extent of the damage.

An MRI would be the go-to method in most cases because as mentioned above, the labrum is a soft tissue and any severe damage to it may not show up in an X-Ray.

For an MRI you will be injected with some DYE to help better detect the tear and other injuries.

Treatment

Non-Surgical Treatment

In most cases, surgery is not recommended for a torn labrum shoulder. In the initial stages, treat the pain with an ice pack for about 15-20 minutes every 4-5 hours. The physician might also subscribe painkillers to reduce pain and inflammation.

Once the pain and inflammation lower, it’s time to regain the muscle strength. For this, you’ll need to get in touch with a physical therapist.

The special training program recommended by the therapist will ensure full recovery without further damaging the torn labrum.

Surgical Treatment

torn labrum shoulder

Source: Winds Or Upper Limb

If the painkillers and ice pack fail to lower the pain, a surgery may be your best alternative. The surgery is known as arthroscopy. During this, a camera is inserted by making an incision close to the injured joint.

This makes it easier to understand the extent and exact place of the injury. With that information, a surgeon can then re-attach or staple the labrum using the appropriate tools.

Once the surgery is completed, the shoulder will have to be in a sling for about a month and physical therapy is required.

Recovery Period

In case of a minor torn labrum in the shoulder, recovery should take about 1-2 months or maybe a few weeks. But if you’ve undergone a surgery, the recovery period can vary from 4-5 months.