The shoulder labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder joint. The labrum helps to keep the ball of the upper arm bone (the humerus) in place. A labral tear can happen when there is a sudden trauma to the shoulder or when it is overused and starts to wear down. There are three types of labral tears:
- SLAP Lesion: Stands for Superior Labrum, Anterior (Front) to Posterior (Back) and usually occurs on the upper part of the socket
- Bankart Lesion: A tear at the front of the labrum at the bottom of the shoulder socket. This usually occurs as a result of a dislocation.
- Posterior Labral Tear: A tear in the back part of the socket which can occur from an injury or due to normal wear and tear over time.
Oftentimes, people will be unaware that they have a labral tear and will only find it incidentally. However, if the tear is bad enough, it can result in instability of the shoulder and pain.
If you suspect you may have a torn labrum, your doctor can examine your shoulder and decide whether further testing such as an MRI or CT scan may be necessary. For minor tears, nonsurgical treatment may be sufficient. However, if the tear is causing significant instability or pain, surgery will be recommended.