Shoulder Labral Tears
Shoulder Labral Tears
What is it?
A ring of flexible, fibrous connective tissue, known as the glenohumeral labrum, surrounds the shoulder joint.
This labrum increases the stability of the shoulder while allowing for the required flexibility of one of the bodies’ most ophisticated joints.
One well-known muscle of the arm, the biceps, has an attachment directly into the labrum and is a common site of injury.
A tear of the labrum can occur in many locations, however the most common is at the point where the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum.
Usually, this tear follows a typical pattern
and is referred to as a superior labrum tear, anterior to posterior (SLAP tear).
What causes it?
SLAP tears can be caused by trauma such as a fall onto an outstretched hand or a dislocated
Tears can also develop over time with repeated throwing actions or overhead activities as the labrum is weakened and eventually injured.
Traumatic tears are more likely to be symptomatic than tears that develop slowly.
None of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.
What are the symptoms?
As mentioned, SLAP tears can occur suddenly, through trauma or develop slowly through
Often if the injury develops over time, patients can be unaware they have sustained a tear and the injury doesn’t have a significant impact on their pain or function.
Pre-existing SLAP tears can however, place more tension on the long head of biceps tendon,
leading to overuse disorders as a secondary complication.
When the tear occurs through a sudden action or trauma, symptoms can be more marked.
Sufferers often notice pain deep in the shoulder joint with overhead shoulder movements, a
feeling of weakness, loss of power and/or accuracy with throwing activities.
Some people may notice a popping or clicking sensation and occasionally the shoulder may give way.
In severe tears, the shoulder might feel unstable and even be at increased risk of dislocation.
How can physiotherapy help?
Your physiotherapist is able to help diagnose a suspected SLAP tear and send you for further imaging if needed.
SLAP tears are often graded by severity from I to IV as a way to guide treatment.
Physiotherapy is usually recommended as a trial for all tears before considering surgical repair and in many cases can effectively help patients return to their previous activities, symptom-free.
If physiotherapy is unsuccessful, surgical repair with a full rehabilitation program is recommended.
Surgery will usually either repair the tear or reattach the biceps tendon to the
humerus (tenodesis). Following surgery, a period of rest in a sling is required before
rehabilitation can begin.
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Billy Wu ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Awesome physiotherapists. Have my long-term health in mind when offering treatment plans. Very patient in explaining my issues. Great support staff, responsive to schedule changes and inquiries.
Jen Scheerschmidt ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Initial Assessment went well. Office was busy but staff were attentive and on the ball. Dr. Rennick was gentle and adjusted my back well. I will be back for another appointment.
Morgan Tarves ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I attend Action Sports Clinic to see my physiotherapist - Darra. Darra is very knowledgeable, attentive, and truly knows his sports medicine. I would highly recommend Darra to anyone who has a sports injury or is in need of physiotherapy. The front desk staff are very friendly and helpful, and are able to answer all of my questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
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We specialize in the practice of Sports Medicine and provide services related to Sports Therapy, Chiropractic Care, Physical Therapy, Massage as well as off the shelf and custom Prosthetics & Orthotics.
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