The labrum is a type of cartilage of the shoulder. It keeps the ball of the shoulder joint within the socket by deepening the socket, helping with stability. The labrum is often torn as a result of acute trauma and can occur alongside other issues like dislocation. There are multiple types of labral tears that require different treatments.
When the superior part of the labrum is torn in both the front and back, it is called a SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior) Tear. This injury can result from overtime wear down of the labrum and acute injuries. It also occurs frequently in athletes who do overhead sports, like in tennis players or baseball pitchers.
Typical symptoms of a SLAP tear include pain, decreased strength and range of motion, a “popping” sensation, and “dead arm”. Nonsurgical treatment of this injury includes Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy while the surgical treatment is typically arthroscopy.
In a Bankart tear, a dislocation of the shoulder joint causes the labrum to be torn. This can lead to instability in the joint. A common treatment for this injury is reduction, where a doctor or other medical professional “pops” the shoulder back into place, followed by physical therapy. This injury typically occurs in young people, under the age of 20.