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Labral Tears 

A labral tear occurs when you damage the labrum in the shoulder or hip. Both the hips and shoulders are ball-and-socket joints. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that follows the outside rim of the shoulder and hip sockets. It acts as a seal to keep the top, or ball, of the bone in the socket and cushions the joint to provide smooth and painless movement of the shoulder or hip. When the labrum is torn or becomes damaged, it is known as a labral tear. 

What Causes Labral Tears? 

Some common causes of labral tears in the hip include: 

  • Repetitive or high-impact movements from activities like hockey and golf 
  • Structural ailments like femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) 
  • Degenerative health conditions 

Causes of labral tears in the shoulder can include:

  • Trauma from a fall or a direct hit to the shoulder 
  • A sudden tug on the arm 
  • Repetitive movements from activities like tennis 

What Are the Symptoms of Labral Tears? 

Typical symptoms of a hip labral tear are: 

  • A locking, clicking or "catching" feeling in the hip 
  • Pain in the hip or groin 
  • Stiffness in the hip 
  • Decreased range of hip motion  

The symptoms of a shoulder labral tear often include: 

  • Pain when doing overhead activities 
  • A grinding, popping or "sticking" sensa
  • tion in the shoulder socket 
  • Pain at night 
  • Decreased range of shoulder motion 
  • Loss of shoulder strength 

How Are Labral Tears Diagnosed? 

To diagnose a labral tear, orthopaedic doctors—like the ones found at Tampa General Hospital—can perform a physical exam of a patient’s shoulder or hip and discuss their symptoms. Imaging tests such as X-rays and MRIs will also likely be used to see any tears or damage. 

How Are Labral Tears Treated? 

Treatment for labral tears typically depends on the severity of symptoms. For some people, recovery is achieved with conservative treatment options like: 

  • Pain medications 
  • Corticosteroid injections 
  • Physical therapy 

In more severe cases, doctors may recommend surgery to repair a hip or shoulder labral tear. An orthopaedic surgeon will determine whether the repair can be performed as a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure or as an open surgery.