Shoulder Labral Tears

Inside the shoulder joint is a fibrous tissue called the labrum in which the arm bone, or humerus, sits that helps to deepen the joint socket and stabilize the shoulder. Labral tears are common with athletes because of repetitive throwing and can happen in different parts of the labrum. Other causes of tears are direct trauma to the shoulder complex, heavy lifting, falling on outstretched arms, motor vehicle accidents, forceful pulling of the arm, shoulder dislocations, hyperextension injuries, and normal wear-and-tear.

Depending on the location and severity of the tear as well as level of pain and limitations, some labral tears need to be surgically repaired usually through arthroscopic procedures.


  • Pain in shoulder overhead movements or lying on the shoulder
  • Pain in upper arm if biceps is involved
  • Painful clicking with shoulder movements
  • Loss of shoulder range of motion
  • Weakness
  • Reduced throwing speed with overhead athletes


After surgeries, your physical therapist will guide you through appropriate rehabilitation including restrictions to ensure full healing. Your care will progress as appropriate to include treatment to restore normal range of motion, flexibility, joint mechanics, and strength in order to return to prior level of function. This will include developing a home exercise program to ensure proper healing after surgery.

If surgical care is not needed, physical therapy will focus on pain control, restoring strength, normalizing range of motion, and activity modifications as needed to reduce risk for further injury. A home exercise program will be provided to optimize outcomes.

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