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Shoulder Labral Tear / Instability

What is shoulder labral tear / instability?

Shoulder labral tear and instability refer to conditions where the labrum becomes damaged or torn, leading to instability or looseness of the shoulder joint. This can occur due to traumatic injury, repetitive overuse, or underlying structural abnormalities in the shoulder joint.

What are the causes of shoulder labral tear / instability?

Shoulder labral tears and instability can arise from various factors, including both acute trauma and chronic overuse, leading to structural damage within the shoulder joint.

Chronic Overuse:

Repetitive Motions: Engaging in activities involving repetitive overhead arm movements, such as throwing, swimming, or overhead weightlifting, can gradually wear down the labrum, resulting in tears or instability over time.

Muscle Imbalance: Weakness or imbalance in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, including the rotator cuff muscles and scapular stabilizers, can contribute to abnormal shoulder mechanics and increased stress on the labrum, predisposing it to injury.

Aging and Degeneration: With age, the labrum and other structures within the shoulder joint may undergo degenerative changes, making them more susceptible to tears and instability, even with minor stress or trauma.

Acute Trauma:

Falls: Landing directly onto the shoulder or outstretched arm, such as during a fall or collision, can result in a sudden tear or detachment of the labrum, leading to instability and potential dislocation of the shoulder joint.

Impact Injuries: Direct impact to the shoulder, often seen in contact sports like football or hockey, can cause significant trauma to the labrum, resulting in tears, dislocations, or instability of the shoulder joint.

Lifting Heavy Objects: Sudden or excessive force while lifting heavy objects, especially with poor lifting mechanics or inadequate shoulder strength, can strain or tear the labrum, leading to instability and compromised shoulder function.

What are the symptoms of shoulder labral tear / instability?

  • Shoulder pain, especially with overhead activities or throwing motions.
  • A sensation of popping, clicking, or catching in the shoulder joint.
  • Shoulder instability or a feeling that the shoulder is slipping or giving way which may lead to shoulder dislocation
  • Decreased shoulder strength and range of motion.

How is shoulder labral tear / instability diagnosed?

  • Medical History: Shane J. Nho will inquire about your symptoms, previous shoulder injuries such as dislocations, and activities that exacerbate your symptoms.
  • Physical Examination: During your visit, Dr. Shane J. Nho will also perform specific tests to assess shoulder stability, range of motion, and strength.
  • Imaging Studies: X-rays will be ordered to evaluate the bony structures of the shoulder joint and rule out other conditions. MRI can accurately detect labral tears, assess the size and location of the tear, and identify any associated injuries.
At a Glance

Dr. Shane Nho

  • Board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon
  • Team Physician for Chicago Bulls, White Sox, Steel
  • Performs more than 700 procedures each year
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