Possibilities for a Labrum Injury

Before getting into some of the details surrounding a labrum injury, it is important to explain what the labrum is in that most people are unsure.  The labrum is located in the shoulder joint and is actually a type of cartilage.  As you probably know, the shoulder is comprised of a ball and socket that fit together so movement and rotation are possible.  The ball part of the shoulder is the arm bone, also called the humerus, which fits into the socket.

The ball and socket, along with the humerus are connected to the shoulder blade with ligaments.  These ligaments are very tough types of tissue that form tethers, which keep the bones in place while aligning with one another.  Also, within the joint are two types of cartilage.  First, the articular cartilage is white and formed on the ends of bones.  With this cartilage, bones have the ability to glide over one another smoothly without being damaged.  However, with age or injury this type of cartilage can become worn, at which time arthritis develops, a condition that causes pain and stiffness.

The second type of cartilage found in the joints is called labrum.  Unlike articular cartilage, the labrum is fibrous.  This is why a labrum injury usually starts with the cartilage being strained, often from overuse or improper movement.  For instance, if you play volleyball on a regular basis, power serving the ball repeatedly within a single game could eventually lead to a labrum injury such as strain.

In addition, an injury of the labrum could be more serious, as in the case of the cartilage actually tearing.  Keep in mind that the labrum is found at the location where the sock is attached.  Therefore, if you were in a bad accident, took a serious fall, or perhaps worked a job or had a hobby involving overuse, a worse type of labrum injury could occur.  In this case, the cartilage would actually tear, which would be extremely painful.

If the labrum injury is mild to moderate, it would likely heal over time although it could take up to four to six weeks.  During this time, the doctor would have you ice the area for the first 24 hours and then follow up with heat.  In addition, pain medication, as well as an anti-inflammation medication would be prescribed to help keep pain and swelling to a minimum.  Usually, an injury at this level would uncomfortable although it could also be painful.

On the other end of the spectrum, when the labrum cartilage tears, the labrum injury would be far more painful, swelling would be more intense, and healing would take longer.  If the tear were mild, it could heal on its own but you would be required to keep your arm and shoulder perfectly still to avoid aggravating the injury further.

Unfortunately, if the labrum were torn on a moderate to severe level, a surgeon would need to go in surgically to repair the tear.  Obviously, the pain level would be greater for this situation and healing time could take several months.  On a positive note, if you were to follow the doctor’s orders exact, you should expect a full recovery.