Your shoulder is comprised of three main bones, the scapula, the clavicle and the humerus. The ball and socket joint which attaches your arm to the shoulder is very flexible and allows for a wide range of motions. The same motions can also cause damage to the joint, especially in cases of athletes that throw a lot and cause repeated stress on the joint.
The ball of the arm if firmly lodged inside the socket of the shoulder and is held in place by a rim of cartridge called Labrum. This cartilage keeps the ball pushed back in and prevent it from popping off due to sudden movements. A repetitive throwing motion can cause tearing in this cartilage, which is known as a Labral tear.
Baseball is not the only sport which sees this injury. Only recently, Michael Carter-Williams, who was recognized as the rookie of the year in the NBA, has suffered from a tear in his right Labrum. The Labrum is responsible for the stability of the shoulder and a tear can cause the player to lose precision, along with pain when throwing.
SLAP tears and Blankart tears are the two most common types of Labrum tears and are caused by repeated stress on the shoulder, and sometimes require surgical treatment but in most cases, rest and some medication is sufficient. While athletes are high risk patients for this problem, accidents can also cause Labrum tear.
Treatment for Labral tears
Most surgeons act very conservatively when treating Labrum tears. The first thing that they will advise is an xray or MRI scan which will reveal the extent of the damage to the shoulder. Based on the information that is gathered from the test, they may prescribe rest, medication, physical therapy or surgery.
Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior, or SLAP tears are often treated with medication and rest. In some cases a cortisone injection may also need to be administered. The treatment is followed by physical therapy to help the shoulder regain normal mobility.
A Bankart tear on the other hand, is usually accompanied by the dislocation of the shoulder. The ball pops out of the socket and an expert needs to first pop the shoulder in place. After the reduction of the shoulder, the patient needs to undergo special physical therapy that strengthens the muscles and ensures that a repeat of this incident does not occur.
What happens when non surgical methods fail
Extensive damage to the Labrum can sometimes not be repaired with medication and therapy alone. In such an event, a Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon has to manually reattach the ligaments and the Labrum that have been torn from the bone.
This is made possible through an arthroscopic procedure in which a small camera guides the surgeon and allows them to perform the entire procedure with minimal invasion to the patient’s body. Open surgeries are sometimes needed when arthoscopy fails to provide a permanent solution to the problem, but are generally avoided due to longer recovery periods and chances that full mobility may not be restored.