The glenoid labrum is part of the cartilage of the shoulder joint. The glenoid fossa—the socket into which the head of the upper arm bone fits—is rather shallow, and the glenoid labrum acts as a sort of extension of the socket. It extends beyond the bony aspects of the socket and forms a cartilaginous “rim” that helps hold the head of the humerus in place and stabilize the joint.
Symptoms of an injury to the glenoid labrum are similar to those of other shoulder injuries. In this blog, NYC orthopedic shoulder surgeon Dr. Francis Mendoza will address the common symptoms, causes and treatment options for a glenoid labrum tear.
What are the symptoms of a glenoid labrum tear?
Shoulder injuries of all kinds tend to have many symptoms in common. Symptoms of a glenoid labrum tear include:
- Pain, especially when performing overhead activities
- A “catching” or locking feeling when you move your shoulder; the shoulder may also pop or grind when you move the joint
- Pain during daily activities, or occasionally at night
- The shoulder may feel unstable
- Loss of range of motion in the joint
- Loss of strength in the affected shoulder
What are the some of the causes of a glenoid labrum tear?
Like other shoulder injuries, a glenoid labrum tear can occur for a variety of reasons, from repetitive motion to direct trauma. A tear can occur either above or below the middle of the glenoid fossa—the shoulder socket—and can also involve the biceps tendon or a ligament. Diagnosing the injury can be a bit tricky; since the glenoid labrum is soft tissue, a tear won’t show up on an X-ray. They may still be ordered to rule out other injuries, and you may also need to have a CT scan. The surest method of diagnosis, however, is visualizing the joint through arthroscopy.
Tears of the glenoid labrum often occur in conjunction with other injuries, particularly shoulder dislocations. Other common causes are:
- Falling and landing on an outstretched arm (which is also a common cause of dislocations)
- A hard blow directly to the shoulder
- A sudden jerk, such as you might experience when trying to lift and object that’s too heavy
- A sudden, powerful overhead reach, such as reaching overhead to try to stop yourself from falling
- Repetitive motion such as weightlifting
What is the treatment like for a glenoid labrum tear in the shoulder?
Many labral tears can be treated by managing pain symptoms or undergoing physical therapy. However, some cases require surgical treatment.
Two possible surgical treatment options are labral repair surgery and SLAP lesion surgery, both performed arthroscopically. Labral repair is used when the tear involves only the labrum and doesn’t extend to the biceps tendon. In this case, the torn flap of tissue is removed and any associated damage is repaired. SLAP lesion repair is necessary if the biceps tendon is torn or detached, and involves repairing and reattaching the tendon to the bone. The tendon may be repaired with absorbable stitches, and reattached using surgical hardware.
Where can I find glenoid labrum tear surgery in NYC?
Dr. Mendoza has been recognized as a top shoulder surgeon by Castle Connolly and by consumer groups. He has also served as Director of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. Dr. Mendoza offers both uncomplicated labral repair and SLAP lesion surgeries.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a glenoid labrum tear, timely diagnosis is important. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Mendoza today, and have your shoulder evaluated by a leading expert in the field.