A fibrous ring of tissue, called the labrum, surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint. Labral injuries are often caused by trauma or excessive repetitive motion and may require arthroscopic repair. If you are in Reading, PA and suffer from shoulder problems, get in touch with Dr. Soffer to learn about treatment options.
Dr. Soffer practices orthopedic surgery at Berkshire Orthopedics, a division of Keystone Orthopedics, in Wyomissing. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and performed his orthopedic residency at Union Memorial Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is fellowship trained in sports medicine and arthroscopy by the renowned sports surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.
About Labral Injuries
The shoulder is a unique, complex and important joint. It moves freely in many directions, more so than any other joint, and is very flexible due to its unique structure. Similar to the hip, the shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint.
The upper arm bone (humerus) fits into a socket formed by the shoulder blade (scapula). It is surrounded by a rubbery cartilage called the labrum, which cushions the socket, adds stability, decreases friction, and connects tendons to the shoulder joint.
Certain work or sports activities can put huge demands on the shoulder, causing the labrum to tear, which results in pain, instability, weakness and limited range of motion. Shoulder instability is somewhat common in young athletes, particularly baseball and tennis athletes whose arms are frequently in overhead positions.
In addition to repetitive stress, tears can occur from a direct fall on an outstretched arm, repetitive throwing and forceful lifting. The labrum may also fray and tear as it becomes more brittle during the aging process.
What are the symptoms of labral damage?
Symptoms of a torn labrum depend on where it’s torn and may include:
— Pain, especially when moving your arm over your head or throwing a ball
— Sharp pop or catching sensation
— A feeling of weakness or looseness
— Decreased range of motion
— Rotator cuff weakness
Labral tears can be difficult to see, even in MRI and CT scans, because the labrum is deep in the shoulder. Your doctor may need to look into the shoulder with an arthroscope to see what is going on inside. An arthroscope is a small TV camera that is inserted, via a small incision, into the shoulder joint to enable the surgeon to see pictures of it on a TV screen and determine if the labrum is torn.
While most labral tears don’t require surgery, if your symptoms don’t go away with non-surgical treatment, such as rest, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy, your doctor may suggest arthroscopic surgery to repair the labrum.
If the tear is small, arthroscopic surgery can be done to remove the labrum’s frayed edges and any loose parts that may be getting caught as you move your shoulder.
If the tear is larger and the shoulder is unstable, an arthroscopic labral repair may be necessary. Cutting-edge surgical techniques allow the surgeon to reattach the torn tissue without having to cut through muscles, and to stabilize the joint by placing anchors into the bone, reattaching the labrum using the arthroscope, and allowing the labrum to heal.
If you live in Reading or another area of Berks County, PA and would like more information about labral tears or arthroscopic labral repair, call us today at 610-375-4949 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Soffer.