If you’re like many people, you didn’t even know you had a labrum. While the term is unfamiliar for most, it describes a piece of cartilage in your shoulder that contributes to the stability of the joint. Even a small tear in the labrum can lead to instability in the joint, and instability can lead to bothersome symptoms and further injuries. If you’re suffering from shoulder pain, instability, or restricted range of motion, contact Dr. Kristofer J. Jones, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine in the Los Angeles area. He can help you determine the right course of action to treat your injury and prevent further complication.
The labrum can be described as a cup-shaped tissue that lines the glenoid (your shoulder socket) and perfectly fits and cushions the humeral head (the rounded end of the long bone in your upper arm).. When the labrum is injured, your shoulder quickly becomes unstable.
In most instances, labrum tears result from traumatic injury to the shoulder. This might occur after falling on your outstretched arm or suffering a shoulder dislocation. Less frequently, labrum tears result from normal wear and tear on your shoulder, which can slowly break down the labrum over time.
Labrum tears are very difficult to diagnose, and many patients aren’t sure what to report when they meet with their sports medicine doctor or orthopedic surgeon. Like many patients, you may simply experience what you can only describe as a “catch” in your shoulder. Like other patients, you might begin to experience dull, bothersome pain over time.
Medical treatment is necessary following a shoulder injury, but there are a few steps you can take to alleviate pain and promote healing while you wait to see Dr. Jones.
The first and most important measure is to rest your shoulder; hold your arm still, avoiding lifting your arm above your head or extending it behind your back, and don’t lift anything more than just a few pounds with the affected arm.
Secondly, take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories unless Dr. Jones tells you otherwise; these can reduce swelling and inflammation in the joint and alleviate your pain.
Conservative approaches are usually prescribed before surgery for your general safety and well-being. Conservative approaches include ice, rest, anti-inflammatories, a sling, and physical therapy.
When conservative approaches don’t improve the symptoms of your labrum tear, surgery may be recommended. The goal of surgery is to repair the tear and restore the normal functioning of your shoulder so you can return to work and regular activities without pain or limitations.