Glenoid Labrum Tear

What is it/what happens to cause this issue?

The glenoid labrum has the very important job of increasing the depth of the shoulder cavity making the shoulder joint more stable. The glenoid labrum can be injured by repetitive overhead throwing, lifting, catching heavy objects below shoulder height, or falling onto an outstretched arm. This can happen in a quick sudden moment, or with repeated actions over a long course of time.

These injuries are grouped into being either superior, towards the top of the glenoid socket, or inferior towards the bottom of the glenoid socket. A superior is a tear of the rim above the middle of the socket that may also involve the biceps tendon. A tear of the rim below the middle of the glenoid socket is called a Bankart lesion and also affects the inferior glenohumeral ligament. Tears of the glenoid labrum sometimes occur simultaneously with other shoulder injuries, like a dislocated shoulder.

Symptoms include shoulder pain which can’t be pinpointed to a specific point. This pain is made worse by overhead actions or when the arm gets held behind the back. The patient may also experience weakness and instability in the shoulder, with tenderness specifically over the front of the shoulder.

What does a typical treatment look like?

When this injury happens, the first thing to do is rest the affected arm and apply cold therapy to reduce pain and inflammation. It is vital to see a doctor to understand the damage that has occurred. After examining the arm, the doctor may prescribe anti inflammatory medicine, like ibuprofen. A full and gradual rehabilitation program is required to reach full mobility. If the injuries continue to be unstable, surgery will be required to re-attach the labrum to the glenoid. Bankart lesions usually require surgery. It is important to note that any underlying causes that contributed to the original injury such as shoulder instability should be addressed, and this is why it is vital to have a doctor look at your injury.

Is there a recovery time before it’s gone or does it have lingering effects?

Following surgery the shoulder needs to be kept in a sling for around 3 or 4 weeks. After 6 weeks of resting more sports specific training can be introduced, although full fitness may take 3 or 4 months. It is very important to follow the instructions for caring for your recovering injury. This will ensure that everything recovers exactly the way that it should, and that no additional injuries are caused because of negligence.

What are the consequences of not treating it?

It is important to see a doctor if you feel that you are experiencing any of these symptoms. If caught early, many of these symptoms can be treated to return your lost motility. After treatment, be sure to allow the shoulder to rest for the recommended amount of time. Ignoring this could lead to irreversible damage in your shoulder, and ultimately lead to a disability.