Torn Labrum In Shoulder: Its Causes, Symptoms And Rehabilitation

The shoulder joint is a typical ball and socket joint, which allows greater mobility across multiple planes. This allows the arm to move around in horizontal and vertical planes with ease. However, unlike the hip joint (which is also a ball and socket joint), the shoulder joint is shallow, which makes it relatively unstable.

This means the bones surrounding the joint, are not adequately placed, making it prone to displacement. To compensate for the lack of bone support, the shoulder joint receives extra support from tendons and ligaments.

The labrum is a cartilage cuff that forms a cup over the humerus (upper arm bone) to allow it to move within the socket. The labrum also adds depth to the shoulder socket, as it circles around the glenoid. This allows the shoulder joint to perform a wide range of movements and also makes it more stable.

What Causes A Torn Labrum In Shoulder?

Injury to the shoulder joint, especially among athletes and age related wear and tear are the two primary reasons for tear in the labrum.

Depending upon the nature of the injury, there are three main labral tear patterns observed,

  • SLAP tears, which are more frequently seen in overhead throwing athletes, e.g. tennis and baseball players. The labrum tear is seen along the top of the socket, where the biceps is attached to the shoulder joint.
  • Bankart Tears is associated with shoulder dislocation. When the shoulder pops out of the joint, it injures the labrum, resulting in a tear.
  • Posterior labral tear is associated with internal impingement and is relatively less common. This condition affects athletes and results in the pinching of the rotator cuff and labrum.

Torn Labrum In Shoulder Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms associated with torn labrum include,

  • Dull and aching sensation in the shoulder joint. The aching can be associated with mild degree of swelling in the shoulder.
  • Obstructive and interrupted movements, with catching of the shoulder joint.
  • Pain while performing specific movements or activities. The intensity of the pain may vary depending upon the extent of tear.

How To Rehab A Torn Labrum In Shoulder?

Here are some simple rehab tips and exercises that can help in quick rehab of torn labrum,

  • Squeeze scaps i.e. squeezing the scapulas together, as if doing a bench press. This tends to rotate the humerus into the glenoid cavity. This in turn takes some pressure off the labrum and thereby hastens the healing process.
  • Gradually, improve the range of motion with an appropriate exercise plan. In the beginning perform simple and mild movements and gradually increasing the complexity and pace of the movements. While doing this, always remember not the stretch the muscles beyond the pain point trigger, especially during the acute stage (i.e. the first 14 days post the injury).
  • During the next stage, gradually move the shoulder overheads, using light weight dumbbells. This will prevent the biceps tendon from impinging over the supraspinatus tendon and remain fixated to the head of the humerus and hastening healing of the torn labrum.
  • Gradually perform simple motions like touching┬áthe right shoulder with your left hand and vice versa (abduction) or moving the hand in clockwise and anti clockwise directions (circumduction), etc. these will help strengthen the tendons and ligaments and prevent a recurrence.

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