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Labral Tears

What are Labral Tears?

It refers to injury to the rim of cartilage (labrum) that lines and reinforces a ball-and-socket joint. The three most common types of labral injuries are:

  • SLAP (superior labrum from anterior to posterior) tears in the shoulder
  • Bankart tears in the shoulder
  • Hip labral tears

Can physiotherapy help people with labral tears?

Yes. Physiotherapy is a key part of the treatment plan for all labral tears. Your GP or specialist will also refer you for physiotherapy as part of his first line of management before considering any surgical option.

What are the causes of labral tears?

SLAP (superior labrum from anterior to posterior) tears and bankart tears in the shoulder may result from:

  • Repetitive use of the shoulder in throwing sports

  • Rapid over the shoulder or overhead movement

  • Shoulder dislocation

  • Acute trauma from a motor vehicle accident

  • Falling onto an outstretched arm in front of or to the side of the body

  • Falling onto the shoulder

  • Forceful pulling of the arm

  • Lifting heavy objects

  • Degeneration, or the wearing down of the labrum

Hip labral tears in the shoulder may result from:

  • Conditions like femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) that cause abnormal hip movement can also lead to hip labral tears. In femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), the femoral head doesn’t fit into the socket properly. This imperfect fit can cause long-lasting groin pain and movement limitations. This is the most common cause of labral tears. FAI can affect people at any age

  • Trauma to the hip can lead to a hip labral tear. This can happen to people who play certain sports that have repetitive and high-impact movements, such as ice hockey, football, soccer and golf

  • Degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, a chronic wearing down of the cartilage between the joints. As cartilage slowly erodes over time, it becomes more prone to tearing. Older age and excessive weight can increase a person’s risk for developing osteoarthritis

  • It may also occur from hip muscle tightness and muscle weakness, improper technique with repetitive activities, participation in sports that require distance running, or repetitive twisting and cutting

How do I know if I have a labral tear?

If you have a SLAP (superior labrum from anterior to posterior) tear, you will experience the following:

  • Deep, aching pain

  • Popping, clicking, catching, locking or grinding in the shoulder

  • Decreased range of motion

  • Shoulder instability

  • Pain when lifting or carrying objects

  • Pain when moving the arm or shoulder

  • Decreased shoulder strength

If you have a bankart tear, you will experience the following:

  • Shoulder pain that gets worse when the hand is held behind the back

  • Muscle weakness

  • Shoulder instability

  • Unusual noises or sensation in the shoulder

  • Pain when reaching overhead, at night or with daily activities

  • Limited range of shoulder movement

If you have a hip labral tear, you will experience the following:

  • Hip pain or stiffness

  • Pain in the groin or buttocks area

  • Weakness in the muscles surrounding the hip

  • A clicking or locking sound in the hip area when you move

  • Feeling unsteady on your feet

  • Pain that increases with prolonged sitting or walking

  • A sharp pain in the hip or groin when squatting

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