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Shoulder Labrum Tears: Causes, symptoms, and treatment options

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The shoulder joint has to be stable and flexible enough to perform a wide range of various arm and shoulder movements. The shoulders are a marvel of design that enables the upper body to move by means of soft tissues in the form of a thick band-like structure. This is called the labrum. The labrum is the attachment site for the ligaments and supports the ball and socket joint along with the rotator cuff tendons and muscles. It contributes to shoulder stability and, when torn, can lead to partial or complete shoulder dislocation. A torn shoulder labrum can interfere with most of the normal functioning of the shoulder.


The possible causes for a torn shoulder labrum could be any of the following situations:
  • If a person uses their shoulder in a repetitive motion, thus putting more strain on the labrum, a tear is more likely possible. There is an increased risk of a tear if the labrum is being overworked, and this is also known as a repetitive stress injury.

  • This tear can also occur when there is some form of physical trauma, such as in a car accident, a fall or other injuries that have an impact on the shoulder area.

  • The labrum is crucial to the proper functioning of the shoulder, since it is put to use whenever the shoulder or arm has movement. Even without repetitive stress tears, there are increased risks that can come with advancing age. This is why it can occur in people who are 50 years of age or over.

  • Symptoms

    The symptoms associated with a torn shoulder labrum can vary based on the individual and the severity of the condition. When you want to get an idea as to whether or not you have this condition, other sufferers report having a grinding sensation in the shoulder. It can also feel like a catching and locking sensation within the joint. The shoulder can also have a very limited range of motion, and affected patients often report having an unstable feeling in the shoulder joint. A loss of strength and stamina is a common complaint as well. The location of the tear helps to determine the best method of treatment. A physical exam to locate where the pain is coming from is usually the first step. Moreover, a doctor will have a consultation to discuss the initial cause and the patient’s past medical history.

    Treatment options

    Doctors usually prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help treat a torn shoulder labrum. In addition to the meds, physical therapy is also highly recommended. Surgery is usually considered to be a last resort, and is used in extreme cases when the other methods of treatment fall short. There is also a minimally invasive procedure that has a faster recovery period with fewer scars as a result. Increasingly popular regenerative therapies that use stem cells are often the best choice to treat such conditions. They involve an entirely natural process that has few if any side-effects.