What is Glenoid Labrum Tear?

It is well known that the shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint which allows it to move freely up and down. One of the parts of this ball and socket joint is the glenoid or the socket joint of the shoulder. This glenoid is surrounded by fibrocartilagenous structure which acts as a support system for the glenoid. This structure is called as the labrum. The labrum is the responsible for supporting the rotator cuff muscles and tendons. The labrum is responsible for the shoulder being stable despite the amount of load that is being pout on it on a daily basis. Because of this load and repetitive strain that is being put on the labrum at times it causes this labrum to tear. This is what is termed as a Glenoid Labrum Tear.

A torn labrum may lead to pain and partial or complete dislocation of the shoulder. Now what causes the glenoid labrum to tear is obviously repetitive stress being put on the shoulders like lifting heavy weights overhead, a direct blow to the shoulder during a football game, a fall on outstretched shoulder, a sudden stretch of the shoulder such as when trying to stop a fall or a slide. All these incidences can lead to a Glenoid Labrum Tear.

What is Glenoid Labrum Tear?

What are the Causes of Glenoid Labrum Tear?

As stated above, injuries and repetitive strain put on the shoulder leads to Glenoid Labrum Tear. Some of the injuries than can cause Glenoid Labrum Tear are fall on outstretched arms, a direct blow to the shoulder as a result of a tackle while playing football or hockey, a direct blow or trauma to the shoulder, lifting heavy weights with the hands up overhead on a repetitive basis such as during construction. Athletes who use their shoulders more are prone to Glenoid Labrum Tear. Some of the sporting events where a player can suffer a Glenoid Labrum Tear are shot put, discus, tennis, squash, badminton and the like.

What are the Symptoms of Glenoid Labrum Tear?

Some of the symptoms of a Glenoid Labrum Tear are:

  • Pain with any form of overhead activity can be a symptom of glenoid labrum tear
  • Catching or locking of the shoulder
  • Hearing a popping or grinding sound when moving the shoulder can also be a symptom of glenoid labrum tear
  • Pain with any activities involving the shoulders
  • A sense that the shoulder is unstable and wants to give way
  • Reduction in range of motion of he shoulder
  • Weakness of the shoulder.

How is Glenoid Labrum Tear Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose Glenoid Labrum Tear, the doctor will first take a detailed history of the patient asking about how the injury occurred, whether the patient has a history of repetitive use of the shoulder, whether the patient has an occupational history in which he or she is required to lift heavy items overhead repetitively. The patient maybe asked if any specific incident made the symptoms worse. The affected shoulder will be inspected and palpated to look for any areas of tenderness. Shoulder range of motion will be checked to see if the shoulder movements are normal and whether the shoulder joint is stable or not.

If there is a popping or grinding sound with range of motion then it will point towards a tear somewhere in the shoulder muscles. To confirm the diagnosis of Glenoid Labrum Tear, radiological studies in the form of a CT or an MRI scan may be ordered as an x-ray will not be accurate and convincing enough to diagnose a Glenoid Labrum Tear. In majority of the cases, a diagnosis of Glenoid Labrum Tear is confirmed by these tests.

In some cases where the MRI and CT scan is inconclusive and a firm diagnosis cannot be made then the only way to diagnose Glenoid Labrum Tear is to do a diagnostic arthroscopy in which the affected shoulder will be explored by making a small incision and inserting a wire with a camera attached to it and the images monitored outside by the surgeon on the monitor. This will confirmatively diagnose a Glenoid Labrum Tear.

How is Glenoid Labrum Tear Treated?

Before a confirmatory diagnosis of Glenoid Labrum Tear is made, the doctor will start the treatment by prescribing the patient antiinflammatory medications in the form of Tylenol or ibuprofen and advice lots of rest to calm down the inflammation and relieve the symptoms. The patient may be sent to physical therapy for strengthening exercises. If these conservative measures are not good enough to calm down the symptoms and the patient reports no improvement then the physician may recommend an arthroscopic surgery to look at the interior parts of the shoulder and pinpoint the exact etiology of the patient's symptoms and in this case Glenoid Labrum Tear.

While doing an arthroscopic surgery, if the surgeon finds an injury that is just confined to the rim of the glenoid itself and there is no involvement of the tendons and the shoulder is deemed stable then in such cases the surgeon will remove the torn flap and correct any other associated damage to the structure but if the tear extends to the biceps tendons and the shoulder is unstable then the surgeon will need to repair and reattach the tendon and thus correct Glenoid Labrum Tear.

What is the Recovery Period for Glenoid Labrum Tear?

Postsurgery for glenoid labrum tear, the patient will need to keep the arm in a sling for a period of about four weeks following which the patient will be sent to physical therapy for stretching and strengthening exercises along with range of motion exercises. Once the patient is able to move the shoulder pain free then he or she will be allowed to gradually return to normal activities be it work or sports following glenoid labrum tear. Normally, it usually takes about four months for a patient to completely heal from a Glenoid Labrum Tear.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: October 14, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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