Understanding Your Options When You Have a Labrum Tear

Understanding Your Options When You Have a Labrum Tear

Your shoulder is a wonder. Since this ball-and-socket joint has a wider range of motion than many joints, it’s also prone to more frequent injury. 

Labral tears are one of the most common injuries we treat at Empire Physical Therapy & Athletic Rehabilitation. We can help and offer treatments that heal your torn labrum, offer relief from pain, and increase your mobility.

When they created the practice, Billy Reilly, MS, PT, and Paul LaRosa, MS, PT, were intent on offering manual hand-on physical therapy along with other innovative complementary treatments so patients could get back into the swing of their normal lives as quickly as possible. 

We don’t approach your care as if you are your condition alone. We see you as an individual and as such, we keep your goals and preferences top of mind.

What is the labrum?

The labrum is a cup-shaped piece of cartilage that rims your shoulder socket (the glenoid) and supports and stabilizes the ball (the humerus) of your shoulder joint, keeping it in place. It helps your shoulder move smoothly when you rotate your arm and reach in back of or above you. 

Your rotator cuff works in conjunction to keep the ball in the shoulder socket. There’s also a labrum in your hip joint. 

Labrum tears: The facts

We noted that labrum tears are very common causes of shoulder pain. Causes include repetitive motions, wear-and-tear from aging, or a traumatic injury. 

There are three main types of labrum tears:

SLAP tears

SLAP tears affect the front and back of the labrum — SLAP is an acronym for “superior labral tear from anterior to posterior.” 

Bankart tears

Bankart tears are named after their British namesake, Dr. Arthur Bankart, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon active in the early 20th century. These tears occur when the top of the arm bone moves backward or forward in the socket and then the lower section of the labrum tears. 

This type of tear creates severe shoulder instability, increasing the chances that it will dislocate.

Superior and posterior tears

A rarer type of tear is one where the labrum tears either at its top or bottom. They are known as superior and posterior tears, respectively. 

Symptoms of labrum tears include a sense of shoulder instability, pain, and weakness, and if you experience a Bankart tear, it might feel as if your shoulder may slip out of its socket at any moment. 

It’s also common for your shoulder to lock or catch, and you may hear popping or feel a grinding sensation. Your mobility, of course, becomes very limited. 

A wide range of treatment choices for labrum tears

The good news is that there is a sizable arsenal of treatments if you’ve torn your labrum. If your tear is mild, your doctor may recommend rest, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, or steroid shots. 

If it’s severe, you may need minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, which is associated with faster healing and less pain, bleeding, and scarring compared to traditional surgery. Your surgeon removes the damaged part of your labrum so you can regain a full range of motion. 

When our physical therapists work with you as you recover from a labrum tear or surgery, they collaborate with you to confirm your treatment goals and how best to not only restore your flexibility and range of motion, but talk to you about steps you can take to reduce your risk for future injury. 

After your receive a thorough exam and evaluation, your physical therapist, depending on the injury or surgical procedure you’re recovering from, may utilize a combination of these these treatments:

We may also recommend a Functional Movement Screen test, which gives us information about your movement patterns and how they may affect your mobility and balance. Having this information helps us to offer guidance about injury prevention. 

The Empire Physical Therapy experience we create for you is informative, relaxing, and individualized. You see the same physical therapist every time you come to our office, to build consistency and trust. 

As you work directly with your PT, you’re ushered into a well-equipped treatment room that’s private. And to complement your treatment, we have a gym with all the latest equipment right here on site. 

If you’ve experienced a labrum tear, call our conveniently located Midtown East office at 607-602-1330 and schedule an appointment to begin learning the important role physical therapy can play in your recovery. You can also request an appointment online.

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