Orthopedic Care for Shoulder Joint Tears
Glenoid labrum tears of the shoulder, also known as labral tears or SLAP tears, are common injuries that require treatment with sports medicine or orthopedic care. Labral tears are common in throwing and overhead athletes but can also be seen in patients who perform a lot of overhead lifting at work or working out.
What is a labrum tear?
The three bones that make up the shoulder are the scapula, humerus and clavicle. The scapula, which is often known as the shoulder-blade, contains a small part known as the glenoid. The glenoid cavity consists of the glenoid fossa (a small bone socket) and the glenoid labrum (a fibro-cartilaginous, rubbery ring that encircles the rim of the glenoid fossa). The labrum is a type of padding similar to the meniscus that people will find in the knee.
The padded ring of the labrum provides stability to the shoulder joint as a whole. The head of the humerus fits into the glenoid cavity making up the ball and socket joint. The bony socket of the shoulder is very shallow and the labrum helps to deepen the socket providing more stability. The labrum also attaches to the top of the biceps tendon.
What are the symptoms of a labral tear?
Shoulder weakness and instability
Inflammation or heat in the shoulder
Pain with raised arm or overhead motions
Popping or grinding sounds within the shoulder joint
Decline in shoulder performance
Who is at risk for a labral tear?
Baseball, softball and football players are most at risk of a shoulder labral tear due to the repetitive throwing motion they participate in. This motion puts wear on the shoulder joint. Swimmers, tennis players, volleyball players and weightlifters are also at risk due to the persistent use of the shoulder in resisted overhead motions.
Aging individuals often develop SLAP tears due to the gradual deterioration of joints in general with age. Trauma may also cause SLAP tears. This often happens during falls when an individual abruptly tries to catch themselves or if the direction of the arm jerks while overhead.
What treatment helps SLAP tears?
Sports Medicine or orthopedic care to some extent may be necessary to treat glenoid labrum tears. Non-invasive treatment will first be recommended such as anti-inflammatory medications, reduced use, heating or icing or physical therapy.
In our office, we use the latest technology to help treat shoulder pain. Which treatment we recommend will be based on the results of the examination. Some potential options are:
#1. Laser therapy
A high does laser therapy can be an easy way to treat labrum tears. This therapy can be completed quickly in our office, there is no recovery time and it does not cause any further discomfort. Patients can begin experiencing the benefit of this therapy right away, though multiple treatments may be required.
#2. Platelet-rich plasma therapy
PRP can also treat shoulder injuries and promote faster healing. By extracting blood from the patient and concentrating the platelets which facilitate healing, we are able to bring healing to areas that otherwise would not heal on their own. This process can be an effective form of treatment for those with shoulder pain.
#3 Stem cell treatments
Using ultrasound guidance, we can inject stem cells into the shoulder which may reduce pain and speed up healing.
If these non-invasive treatments are not enough on their own, arthroscopic surgery may be necessary, especially if the biceps tendon that attaches to the labrum is also affected. However, the above treatments significantly reduce the likelihood that surgery will be required. Surgery is a last-resort option for when nothing else is effective.
If you are experiencing shoulder weakness, instability and pain, schedule an appointment for an evaluation and discuss treatment options.