Labral Tears


The labrum is a disk of cartilage on the glenoid, the socket” side of the shoulder joint. The labrum acts as a “bumper”, which helps stabilize the joint and limit excessive motion of the humerus, the “ball” side of the shoulder joint. More importantly, it holds the humerus securely to the glenoid, almost as if suction were involved. A labral tear can be hard to diagnose. Clinicians will first perform a physical examination and usually order an MRI. However, the most reliable way is through arthroscopy of the shoulder (a surgical procedure). 


  • a “grinding” or “catching” sensation when moving the shoulder
  • the shoulder locking
  • decreased range of motion
  • Shoulder instability 
  • loss of strength 

The Two Most Common Labral Tears:

“SLAP” Tear

“SLAP” is an acronym for superiorlabral anterior to posterior tear.  Therefore, this tear occurs on the top of the labrum, extending from the front to the back of the cartilage. This injury affects the attachment of the biceps tendon to the glenoid, which can cause the biceps tendon to potentially rupture.

Bankart lesions or tears 

This type of tear occurs in the lower portion of the glenoid socket. Bankart lesions or tears are most common in younger people who dislocate their shoulder. 


The most likely causes include overuse or trauma to the shoulder.  

  • Young athletes with repetitive overhead movements
  • A hard pull on the arm
  • Falling onto an outstretched arm
  • A direct hit to the shoulder


There are several possible treatment methods for a labrum tear, including both surgical and nonsurgical options. Typically, surgery will be recommended as a last resort if all other methods of treatment prove unsuccessful.

Some nonsurgical options :

  • Physical therapy –  surgical or non-surgical patients  
  • Resting the shoulder (especially young athletes)
  • A doctor popping the shoulder back into place (if it is dislocated)
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
  • Cortisone injections[button_2 color=”red” align=”center” href=””]Request an Appointment![/button_2]