What is the labrum?

The labrum is a ring of fibrous tissue—known as fibrocartilage—that is a part of two joint systems in the body: the shoulder (glenoid labrum) and the hip (acetabular labrum).

In both instances, the labrum helps to deepen the socket where the head of the long bone fits into the joint in order to keep it sealed in place. It also serves as a cushion for the joint and as an anchor for several ligaments within the joint.

What causes a labral tear?

A shoulder labral tear is usually the result of repetitive shoulder motion or sudden trauma to the tissue, such as:

  • A direct hit to the shoulder
  • An abrupt pull, like when a heavy object is lifted
  • Falling down on an outstretched arm

Injury of the shoulder labrum from repetitive shoulder motion is commonly found in athletes that throw consistently or weightlifters.

With a hip labral tear, causes can include:

  • Abnormalities that patients are born with that can accelerate wear and tear on the labrum
  • Injury to or dislocation of the hip from incidents such as a car accident or an accident while playing a contact sport
  • Repetitive motion from playing certain sports or certain job occupations that can lead to a tear

What are the symptoms of a labral tear?

In the shoulder, symptoms of a labral tear—which mimic a host of other shoulder injuries—can include:

  • An unstable sensation in the shoulder
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Dislocations
  • Feeling a grinding, locking, popping or catching sensation
  • Loss of arm strength
  • Pain with daily activity or while sleeping
  • Pain, especially when moving the arm in an overhead position

In many cases, a hip labral tear does not cause any symptoms. However, patients may occasionally experience any of the following:

  • A clicking, locking or catching sensation in the hip joint
  • A limited range of motion or stiffness in the hip joint
  • Pain in the groin or hip

How is a labral tear treated?

In the majority of cases—for both shoulder and hip—conservative methods of treatment are effective in alleviating symptoms of a labral tear. These include:

  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin) to relieve pain and reduce inflammation until the tear heals
  • Receiving a corticosteroid injection in the joint to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy to restore range of motion, strength and stability

Come to the Knee Specialists

At IGEA, our orthopaedic surgeon specializes in treating injuries, including labral tears, using advanced treatment options. These and other specialties are part of our practice’s full continuum of care for patients living with brain, spine, neuroendovascular and orthopaedic conditions.

For more information about the superior care and services we provide or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, contact us today.