What is a Torn Labrum

The shoulder labrum is a piece of soft cartilage, responsible for keeping the ball of the joint in place. Damage in this area is referred as torn labrum.

man with a torn labrum

The shoulder labrum is a piece of soft cartilage attached to the shoulder socket which is the one responsible to keep the ball of the joint in place.

What is a Torn Labrum?

Damage in the cartilage is called labral tear. Now, a torn labrum could be due to common factors; injury and old age.

Torn labrums are sort of hard to diagnose. Your doctor will have to conduct a series of tests or physical examination to rule out a labral tear.

Types of Labrum Tears

Glenoid is the area where the labrum is located. It is a shallow, socket-like opening in the shoulder. Torn labrums could happen anywhere around the glenoid.

Let’s try to check out the various kinds of labrum tears.

1. Bankart Tear or Lesion

Bankart Tears usually happen on dislocated shoulders. It is also said to be common for young people most especially to gym goers. A labrum tear is called a Bankart Tear if it is located to the lower half of the glenoid.

2. Posterior Labrum Tear

This kind of tear in the labrum usually happens in rare cases. A posterior labrum tear could happen if there is an injury at the back of the shoulder joint.

3. SLAP Tear or Lesion

SLAP stands for “superior labrum, anterior to posterior”. SLAP Tear usually happens when there is a damage to the biceps tendon. This type of labrum tear is common to athletes or individuals who use a lot of overhead arm motions.

Symptoms of a Torn Labrum

Common signs of labral tears could make your shoulder pop, lock, catch, and grind.

It is already given that a labral tear is really painful. Having said, you could also experience difficulty in moving, loss of strength, and unexplainable pain. There are also times wherein you would feel your shoulder is gonna break from its joint.

Diagnosing a Torn Labrum

Due to the different kinds of labral tears, your doctor will have to conduct tests first to know which kind of injury you are suffering from. However, one way that your doctor could detect which type is by knowing what caused the injury first.

As mentioned above, several tests such as an X-ray, MRI, CT scan, and even arthroscopic examination may be conducted to further assess your condition.

Causes of a Torn Labrum

A tear in the labrum could be due to the following factors:

  1. Direct hit in the shoulder
  2. Unexpected tug on the arm
  3. Sudden hit during an overhead movement
  4. Fall on an outstretched arm

How To Treat a Torn Labrum?

Non-surgical Way

If you had your injury checked and your doctor says it’s not that severe, then you may try natural or home remedies to treat your injury. If that is the case, then your doctor would probably advise you to take all the time you need to rest. A torn labrum will take some time to heal that’s why it would be best if you would give the injured area some rest.

You may also check out some over-the-counter painkillers that could help relieve pain in the meantime. You may try taking painkillers such as Ibuprofen, Advil, and Aspirin. You may also ask your doctor about anti-inflammatory drugs that he/she can recommend you to make the pain go away.

Physical therapy is another way of treating an injury. If advised by a medical expert, then you should undergo a number of physical therapy sessions. What’s good about physical therapy is that your physical therapist can also advise you on what to do to avoid catching injuries next time. You may also experience massage therapies that can help alleviate the pain caused by the injury. Your program for physical therapy would depend on how severe the injury is.

Surgical Way

After diagnosing your injury with the help of arthroscopic examination, severe labral tears will require invasive arthroscopic surgery.

The surgical treatment made for labral tears may require cutting of flaps on the damaged cartilage. This is because the flaps hinder the proper movement of the joint. That’s why surgery is required to get rid of the damaged part of the labrum.


A torn labrum will recover fast if you would combine all three; rest, painkillers, and physical therapy. If the case is severe, then you have no choice but to follow what the doctor is recommending – surgical treatment.

Your doctors cannot even guarantee you a specific time when your injury would completely heal. However, some experts suggest that a torn labrum might take 9 to 12 months before it heals completely.

If by chance you are an athlete or just the type of individual who does intensive sports movements, then you will surely have to wait for months to recover. You will also need to see your doctor every once in a while to keep track of your recovery progress. By then, only your doctor could tell you if you’re capable of going back to the sport or any activity you used to engage with.

torn labrum

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