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3 Signs of a Labral Tear in Your Shoulder

3 Signs of a Labral Tear in Your Shoulder

Your shoulder joints are a marvel — you can reach up high, scratch your back, and extend your arms across your body. There’s no better way to appreciate these joints than when something’s wrong. All of a sudden, you find life to be more challenging without the full use of your shoulder and, by extension, your arm and hand.

If you’re dealing with shoulder pain and/or loss of motion in the joint, there are a few potential culprits, and a labrum tear certainly makes the list. To help you get to the bottom of your shoulder issue, the team here at Valiant Life Medical is going to focus on this specific injury, including the anatomy of a labrum tear and three of the more common signs.

Your shoulder labrum — making a connection

Our first order of business in helping you to understand your shoulder issue is to paint a clear picture of this joint. As we mentioned at the outset, your arms and hands enjoy an extraordinarily wide range of motion, and this is thanks to a shallow ball and socket.

 

The ball is the top of your humerus (upper arm bone), which fits into a socket in your shoulder blade called the glenoid. Interestingly, your humeral head is larger than the socket, but cartilage tissue that surrounds the glenoid deepens the socket by 50%. And this is your labrum.

Your shoulder labrum not only deepens the socket, it’s the tissue that’s responsible for the stability in your joint, not to mention attaching your arm to your body.

Three types of shoulder labrum tears

As you might imagine, when we discuss a labral tear in your shoulder, we’re referring to damage in this connective tissue. In about 26% of shoulder arthroscopies, there’s evidence of damage in the labrum, which typically presents in one of three ways:

  1. Posterior labral tear at the back of the socket
  2. A Bankart lesion, which occurs at the front of the socket
  3. A SLAP lesion, which includes the superior labrum, anterior (front) to posterior (back)

The location of the labrum tear will influence the symptoms to some extent, but there are some rules of thumb when it comes to shoulder labrum tears, which we review next.

Signs of a shoulder labrum tear

Now let’s get to the topic of this post — signs of a labral tear in your shoulder. These include:

1. Pain

Labral tears in your shoulder often lead to pain, especially if you’re using your arm for overhead activities, such as painting or reaching up. This pain can also flare at night, particularly if you’re sleeping on the side of the injured shoulder.

2. Instability

Another common sign of a labral tear is instability. You might feel like your shoulder is going to give out. Or, your shoulder might dislocate more easily, which means the head pops out of the socket.

3. Loss of strength and motion

Finally, you might start to lose your previous range of motion, and you can also lose strength in your arm.

Outside of the above, labrum tears can also lead to a crackling or popping sound or sensation in your shoulder.

While reviewing your symptoms against what we’ve outlined here is a great first step, the only way to truly get to the bottom of your shoulder issue is to come see us for a full evaluation, which will include advanced imaging.


For expert diagnosis and treatment of your shoulder problem, please contact our office in Fort Worth, Texas, to schedule an appointment.

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