The labrum is a piece of fibrocartilage (rubbery tissue) attached to the rim of the shoulder or hip socket that helps keep the ball of the joint in place. In addition to cushioning the hip joint, the labrum acts like a rubber seal or Gasket to help hold the ball at the top of your thighbone securely within your hip socket. When this cartilage is torn, it is called a labral tear.


Labral tears are often caused by a direct injury to the shoulder, such as falling on an outstretched hand. Athletes who participate in contact sports are especially vulnerable. Any injury to the labrum though can lead to shoulder instability, which will lead to extra motion of the humerus within the socket and cause additional damage to the labrum. An extremely unstable shoulder may slip or even dislocate. This can also cause the labrum to tear. Structural abnormalities of the shoulder also can lead to a labral tear and sometimes have no signs or symptoms.


Although a labral tear can occur in the shoulder and the hip, there are unique associated symptoms that go along with a shoulder labral tear. The following are the most common signs and symptoms:

  • A locking, clicking or catching sensation in your shoulder joint
  • Pain in your shoulder or armpit
  • Stiffness or limited range of motion in your shoulder joint


Treatment choices will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Some patients recover with conservative treatments in a few weeks, while others may require arthroscopic surgery to repair or remove the torn portion of the labrum. It is important that a proper diagnosis is established which is why an MRI may be ordered. More than likely there are associated conditions (i.e. trigger points, scar tissue and tight muscles). They are just as important to take care of because they can inhibit the healing process and increase the chance of additional injuries.