Anatomy of the Shoulder
The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. A ball at the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) fits neatly into a socket, called the glenoid, which is part of the shoulder blade (scapula). The glenoid is surrounded by a ring of fibrous cartilage called the labrum for stabilization of the shoulder joint. The biceps tendon attaches inside the shoulder joint at the superior labrum of the shoulder joint. It is a long cord-like structure that attaches the biceps muscle to the shoulder and helps to stabilize the joint.
Shoulder Labral Tear
Traumatic injury to the shoulder or overuse of the shoulder (throwing, weightlifting) may cause the labrum to tear. In addition, aging may weaken the labrum leading to injury.
Symptoms of Shoulder Labral Tear
Shoulder labral tears may cause symptoms such as:
- Catching or locking sensation
- Decreased range of motion
- Joint instability
Treatments for Shoulder Labral Tear
Your doctor may initially suggest conservative approaches such as prescribing anti-inflammatory medications and advise rest to relieve symptoms until diagnostic scans are performed. Rehabilitation exercises may be recommended to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. If the symptoms do not resolve with these conservative measures, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery.
During arthroscopic surgery, your surgeon examines the labrum and the biceps tendon. If the damage is confined to the labrum without involving the tendon, then the torn flap of the labrum will be removed. In cases where the tendon is also involved or if there is a detachment of the tendon, absorbable wires or sutures will be used to repair and reattach the tendon.
Postoperative Care for Shoulder Labrum Tears
After the surgery, you will be given a shoulder sling to wear for 3-4 weeks. You will be advised motion and flexibility exercises after the sling is removed. These exercises increase the range of motion and flexibility of the shoulder joint.