Shoulder Labral Tear

A shoulder labral tear is tear of the labrum. The labrum is the tissue that holds the end of the arm bone, known as the humerus, in place.

  • Causes


    Shoulder labral tears occur from an injury or through long-term wear and tear. Common causes include the following:

    • Dislocated shoulder
    • A violent overhead reach, such as when trying to stop a fall or slide

  • Definition

    A shoulder labral tear is tear of the labrum. The labrum is the tissue that holds the end of the arm bone, known as the humerus, in place.

    Shoulder Joint
    Shoulder joint repair
    The tool and arrow point to the cartilage of the glenoid.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Images may be taken of your shoulder. This can be done with:

    • MRI scan
      with contrast
    • CT scan
      with contrast

  • Prevention

    Follow these guidelines to prevent a shoulder labral tear:

    • Use the proper technique when playing sports.
    • Avoid putting yourself at risk for trauma to the shoulder area.
    • Perform stretching and strengthening exercises that target the shoulder area.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of a labral tear include:


    • Participation in certain sports, such as:

      • Baseball pitchers
      • Golf
      • Weightlifting
      • Tennis
    • Falling onto your shoulder
    • Repetitive movements of the shoulder
    • Lifting heavy objects
    • Breaking a fall with your arms
    • Direct blow to the shoulder

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Shoulder and/or arm pain
    • Catching or loosening feeling of the shoulder
    • Loss of shoulder range of motion
    • Weakness to shoulder and/or arm
    • Pain with shoulder movement
    • Popping or grinding sensation
    • Achiness of the shoulder

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. You will likely be referred to a specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon. Treatment options include the following:


    In a shoulder
    arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a thin, lighted tube through a small incision to view the injury and fix it. Small instruments are threaded through this tube. The torn ligament/tissue may be removed or sewn together. Wires or tacks may also be used to reattach any torn tendons.