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What is the shoulder labrum?

Updated: Jan 11

The labrum is a cartilage rim that cups the humerus (upper arm bone) to improve joint fitment and provide additional stability to the shoulder.

Types of Labrum Injuries

SLAP Tears

SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior and is a type of tear that occurs in the front of the upper arm. This is more common in athletes that engage in high energy movements at the top of the shoulder. SLAP injuries could also occur due to a traumatic event such as a car accident or landing or tackling with your shoulder.

Bankart Tears

Bankart tears usually occur during a shoulder dislocation which is more common in younger populations. A shoulder dislocation is when the ball of the humerus (upper arm bone) slips causing a tear to the labrum. If the ball slips forward, that is called an anterior dislocation. If the ball slips back, it is called a posterior dislocation. Once a tear occurs, it can create instability within the joint increasing the risk of dislocating again.

Can a labral tear heal without surgery?

Labral tears have the potential to heal without surgery and with Physical Therapy however, it depends on the severity of the tear. Usually the M.D. will recommend Physical Therapy from 4-12 weeks to see if there are any improvements. It is recommended to start a stretching program with Physical Therapy to maintain mobility, monitor symptoms, and progress safely. If conservative treatment fails, additional imaging such as an MRI may be taken to determine next steps.

If you need Physical Therapy for a labrum injury, give Kailua Wellness Center a call today at (808) 261-8181.

Dr. Jun Bradley Cadelinia, PT DPT (Physical Therapist)


Zughaib M, Robbins CB, Miller BS, Gagnier JJ. Outcomes in patients with glenoid labral lesions: a cohort study. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2017;2(1):e000209. Published 2017 Feb 21. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000209

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