Five Symptoms Associated with
Shoulder Labrum Tears
By Helen Swan
A SLAP tear, also known as a Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior tear, is a painful injury that can occur within the shoulder joint. This condition is more prevalent with athletes who use their arms and shoulders repeatedly. For instance, think of basketball, where a player is often reaching for the ball or attempting to do a slam dunk. These tears can also happen as a result of an accident or an injury. In elderly people, the wear and tear that comes with age can also lead to this condition. Pain is usually the primary indicator that a person has when they are affected by this condition. But is that the only way to properly identify a SLAP tear? Have a closer look at six common shoulder labrum tear symptoms in order to recognize the signs, and to seek a proper diagnosis if needed.
- Considerable pain
In most cases, a labrum SLAP tear doesn't hurt all the time. Rather, it’s often felt when reaching above or having to extend the arms. The pain is described as more of a dull ache. The front and back of the shoulder are affected, and one can experience pain in the biceps as well. This is because with a SLAP tear, the labrum is torn at the top in both the front (anterior) and back (posterior) of where it attaches to the biceps tendon.
- Shoulder weakness
Before you notice any other symptoms, you’ll be able to feel that your shoulder is weaker & not functioning properly. Even everyday normal activities will become more challenging & painful. Of course, lifting weights or other strenuous activities will make the pain worse.
- Overhead motion limitations
As stated earlier, athletes who repeatedly raise their arms & shoulders are at greater risk of developing this condition. A tennis player often raises their arms, such as when making a serve. When SLAP tears occur, they can cause significant overall range of motion loss.
- Catching, locking and grinding sensations
These symptoms can be summed up into one word: Crepitus. It’s common to have grinding, popping and clicking sensations when being affected by this condition. This is one of the most annoying shoulder labrum tear symptoms experienced by sufferers.
- Shoulder instability
When you are affected by a SLAP tear, it’s also not unusual to feel a lack of stability in the shoulder. This can affect not only vigorous activities but also normal everyday tasks.
When you experience any of the above mentioned shoulder labrum tear symptoms, make an appointment to see your physician in order to be properly diagnosed as soon as possible. Before performing a physical exam, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, pain level, and where it hurts. If there's a specific injury or event that changed the way your shoulder feels, tell your doctor. If your doctor rules out inflammation or a pinched nerve, an X-ray or MRI is the next step. An X-ray can't see your labrum, but it can show fractures that can cause the pain. Still, your labrum will show up clearly on an MRI.