The shoulders and hips are ball-and-socket joints. The top, or “ball,” of the shoulder or hip bone fits into a socket, allowing for normal range of motion. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that follows the outside rim of the shoulder and hip sockets, which keeps the ball of the joint in place. This rubbery tissue, or cartilage, prevents the ball and joint from touching each other and causing pain. A labral tear occurs when this cartilage is torn in some way.
Causes and Types of Labral Tears
Labral tears are associated with the shoulders and hips. Common causes of labral tears include:
- Trauma, a fracture, or dislocation
- Structural ailments, such as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI)
- Degenerative health conditions, including osteoarthritis
Older age and excessive weight can increase a person’s risk of developing osteoarthritis. Patients with osteoarthritis often have pain and stiffness in more than one joint.
Symptoms of a Labral Tear
Signs and symptoms of a labral tear can vary slightly depending on where the injury is located. The most common symptoms of a labral tear include:
- Pain when performing overhead activities
- Grinding, popping, or sticking in the shoulder socket
- Decreased range of motion
- Loss of shoulder strength
- A locking or clicking sound in the hip
- Pain in the groin or buttocks area
- Stiffness in the hip
- Decreased range of motion
How are Labral Tears Diagnosed?
A hip or shoulder specialist can diagnose a labral tear through a physical examination. You will be asked to perform a series of movements and your doctor will note any pain or limitations. Imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, can also be used to determine if a labral tear is present.
Treatment for Labral Tears
Treatment for labral tears of the hip or shoulder usually begin with conservative methods before surgical intervention is suggested. If surgery is needed, your doctor can utilize arthroscopy, a minimally-invasive procedure, to treat a labral tear.
A labral tear won’t heal on its own, but rest and other measures can help manage symptoms of a minor tear. Nonsurgical treatment for a labral tear includes:
- Anti-inflammatory medication – Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce pain and inflammation
- Steroid injections – Your doctor can inject a steroid into the hip or shoulder joint to ease symptoms
- Physical therapy – Specific exercises can help to stretch and strengthen the surrounding muscles
If you are experiencing deep pain in your shoulder or hip area that is not improving with rest, lasting more than two weeks, and interfering with your normal activities, consult with your doctor for further guidance.
Surgery to fix a labral tear is known as arthroscopy. During the procedure, your doctor will use a thin, tube-shaped instrument with a lighted camera attached to the end. This instrument, called an arthroscope, is inserted through small incisions and used to assist your doctor in repairing the labrum. If FAI is also present, it will be addressed (removed) at the same time to help prevent the labrum from tearing again. The arthroscopic surgery is often done on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient goes home the same day. Since this procedure is minimally-invasive, scarring and recovery time are shorter than with open surgery.
Get Expert Treatment for Your Labral Tear at Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic
Our experienced doctors and surgeons at Raleigh Orthopaedic are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating a wide range of orthopedic conditions, including labral tears. Whether you have suffered a sports injury or you are dealing with a degenerative disease, we provide each patient with the personalized care they deserve. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment at one of our clinics near you in North Carolina, please contact us today.