Hip and Shoulder Labral Tears

Acetabular (hip) Labral Tears

Hip labral tears are a common cause of hip pain in the aging and athletic population. The labrum is a small circular band of connective tissue that serves to add depth to the hip socket to provide more stability and to dissipate forces with compressive forces. This tissue can be injured with trauma during sports or other activities. The most common reason for injuries is morphological changes to the hip joint. These changes in structure, which usually cannot be prevented, can alter the forces on the labrum and cause it to degrade and tear over time. Other causes include capsular laxity and joint hypermobility. Over time, degenerative changes to the labrum can cause increased degeneration to the articular cartilage due to its inability to dissipate forces.


People with inter-articular pathologies of the hip typically present with the classic “C-sign” of pain that start in the lateral hip and wrap around to the groin. Although this is not specific to a labral tear only, it may be an important sign for a patient to seek medical attention to determine the cause. Symptoms of a labral tear generally present as anterior hip pain or groin pain, as well as a clicking, locking, or popping within the hip with movement.


SLAP Lesions (Shoulder Labral Tears)

A SLAP lesion, which stands for superior labrum, anterior and posterior, is a common condition that affects athletes. Overhead athletes are at an increased risk due to repetitive strain on this structure with throwing, but the tissue can be injured from a fall onto the arm, a hit or tackle, as well as a shoulder dislocation.


Because of the shoulders inherent instability, the labrum serves to add depth to the socket to increase stability and serves as an anchor point for the biceps tendon and some of the ligaments in the shoulder.


People with this type of injury generally report a vague shoulder pain that cannot be pinpointed. There may also be a sensation of clicking and popping as well as a general feeling of instability. Chronic dislocations can also be a side effect of this condition due to the labrums inability to provide the support necessary with movement.  

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