What is a Labrum Tear?
A labrum is a smooth ring of cartilage that surrounds the rim of a ball-and-socket joint. The human body actually has two pairs of labrums: a pair in the shoulder joints, and a pair in the hip joints.
The labrums perform an important function for hip and shoulder movement. They act as shock absorbers, and facilitate smooth motion. They also add depth to the shoulder socket, helping to keep the “ball” portion of the joint securely in place.
Both the hip and shoulder labrums are susceptible to injury. The labrum can be torn in a traumatic injury, or they can degenerate gradually over time with overuse. A labrum tear can be moderately or severely painful, and can interfere with your ability to work and to enjoy the daily activities that you love.
Glenoid Labrum Tear
Glenoid is another name for the shoulder. This labrum is located on the side of the shoulder blade, connecting the blade to the head of the upper arm bone (humerus). A glenoid labrum tear is also known as a SLAP tear (superior labrum anterior to posterior) occurs at the front of the upper arm where the biceps tendon connects to the shoulder, a Hill-Sachs tear, or a Bankart tear. All types of labral tears occur often with other shoulder injuries, such as rotator cuff tears, dislocated shoulders, and torn biceps tendons.
Swimmers, weightlifters, and football, volleyball, and baseball players and other throwing athletes are particularly prone to this type of sports injuries, due to repetitive overhead motions and specific exercises, pulling vigorously on the top of the labrum. Additionally, these sports give athletes plenty of opportunities to twist their arm in an awkward way, or injure their shoulder, like falling on an outstretched arm or collision.
Glenoid labrum tear symptoms include a sharp popping or catching sensation in the shoulder, followed by dull aching and instability. Occasionally, there may be no pain, though you still may experience some slipping or looseness in the joint.
Labrum Tear of the Hip
This labrum seals and holds the head of your femur (thigh bone) into your hip socket. It cushions the joint and facilitates motion in the upper leg.
Certain athletes are more likely to tear their hip labrum, including ballet dancers, skaters, and golf, football, soccer, and ice hockey players. These activities present more opportunities for the type of sudden twisting motion that can rip the soft tissue. Additionally, some people can be more prone to these injuries if their hip joints have a structural abnormality that contributes to more wear-and-tear.
Common symptoms of a labral tear of the hip include a locking or popping sensation, followed by pain and stiffness and a limited range of motion in the hip.
Hip and Shoulder Labrum Tear Treatment
Although some severe labrum tears may require surgery, minor tears can usually be treated with conservative measures. There are several minimally-invasive treatment options available for reducing your pain and improving range of motion.
- Physical therapy. Regular PT exercises can strengthen the shoulder or hip and improve mobility.
- Stem cell therapy. Stem cells acquired from your own bone marrow or adipose tissue can accelerate the healing process.
- Alpha-2 macroglobulin injection prevents cartilage breakdown and supports damaged tissue in healing itself.
- Platelet-rich plasma injections. Derived from your own blood, PRP releases growth factors directly into the affected area to jumpstart tissue repair.
If you’ve had a labrum tear injury, call our offices and find out what Nuvo Spine can do for you. Our board-certified pain management physician specializes in non-surgical treatments and advanced interventions, designed to put you on the road to recovery faster and with fewer risks of complication. Make an appointment with our specialist team today.