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shoulder injury

Shoulder Injuries: The Two Most Common Types of Labral Tears

One of the most common shoulder injuries is a tear of the labrum, which helps to stabilize the joint. These injuries can be aggravating at best, debilitating at worst. The hallmark is shoulder instability, but can also present as pain, weakness and loss of motion. If your shoulder feels loose or out of place, you might have a labral tear.

SLAP Tears

A Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior (SLAP) tear is a serious injury caused by accident, injury, overuse, or degenerative processes associated with aging. Because an entire region of the labrum is torn, a slap tear can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms:

  1. Instability related symptoms. Popping, grinding, catching, and/or locking is common. So is a feeling that the shoulder is going to pop out of its socket.
  1. Pain-related symptoms. Overhead movements and holding the shoulder in certain positions can be extremely painful. 
  1. Weakness related symptoms. A decrease in shoulder strength and athletic performance occurs following a SLAP tear. In some cases, athletes may not be able to perform. This is most often due to associated biceps tendon injury.

Illustration 1- A SLAP tear–an entire region of the glenoid labrum is torn


After diagnosing the injury, an orthopedic specialist determines if the tear is serious enough to require arthroscopic surgery. If it isn’t, physical therapy, activity modification, and anti-inflammatory medications are used as treatment measures. Regenerative injections, such as those using PRP can also be considered. If surgery is necessary, it is usually done arthroscopically to repair and re-attach the labrum to the bone.

A Bankart Tear

The term Bankart is used to describe a tear of the inferior (lower) rim of the labrum. Symptoms are similar to those of a SLAP tear. But, because of the way it’s situated, the shoulder is especially susceptible to dislocation following a Bankart tear. In some cases,

A dislocation can cause a portion of the glenoid bone to fracture. This type of injury is known as a bony Bankart.

Illustration 2– A Bankart tear


Non-surgical treatment of a Bankart tear is possible; however, there’s a risk of future shoulder dislocation. Thus, surgical repair is at times necessary. The outpatient procedure is used to repair the tear and, if necessary, reattach fractured bone.

Contacting an Orthopedic Specialist

You shouldn’t have to suffer from the unpleasant symptoms of shoulder instability.  And, you shouldn’t have to worry about your shoulder dislocating. Please give us a call at one of our 5 Fairfield County offices to arrange an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. Your condition will be properly diagnosed and treated. Expect a full recovery when in the hands of our trusted physicians.