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Labral Tears

Labral tears can affect the hip and the shoulder. These are both ball and socket joints that have a lip of cartilage around the outside. Labrum is latin for lip. The labrum’s role is to keep the joint secure, working as a semi-flexible extension of the socket.

Hip and shoulder tear

Method of Injury

Labral tears can be a sports injury, or the result of a fall or other trauma.

Shoulder dislocations can happen alongside labral tears. If the shoulder joint is unstable following reduction of the dislocation, a torn labrum could be part of the picture. In severe cases it may be appropriate to consider surgery, particularly if the injury is repeatedly aggravated due to its instability.

Symptom of Labral Tears

Joint pain on certain movements, which may not always be reproducible, can be a sign of a labral tear. The intermittent nature of symptoms can be a sign that the cartilage is sometimes in the correct place. In these cases, there might be a few movements that can be painful. In other cases, pain may be easy to reproduce on a single movement.

Hip pain often refers to the groin, and shoulder pain to the centre of the deltoid muscle (around the point where you get your injections). If the pain is not directly over the joint itself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the joint is not involved.

Sometimes the cartilage can fold over and cause a clicking noise or sensation. In the hip, this may be diagnosed as a form of snapping hip syndrome. There may also be a muscular click if the local muscles in the hip are trying to protect the joint.

Management of Labral Tears

Management strategies are similar to those used for arthritis, as both conditions affect cartilage. Cartilage is a living tissue, but it does not have a good blood supply. Instead, it takes its nutrients from the local joint fluid. It also deposits its waste in this fluid, so it is important that the fluid is refreshed often. Nutrient and waste transfer happens more frequently when the cartilage is compressed and decompressed, like wringing out a sponge. Both of these points can be aided by movement. Full joint movement squashes out the waste and allows nutrients in, and it encourages the fluid to move on and be replaced.

Your osteopath’s role is therefore to help you regain movement. Hands on treatment during your appointments can help with both joint and muscle health. When a joint is painful, muscles try to protect it and often limit the movement in the process. Relaxing the local muscles can give quick results, which can be maintained between sessions through exercise. We will give you personalised advice and exercises based on your case. In cases where the joint remains unstable, due to the labrum injury or ligamentous injury, we would aim to strengthen the local muscles. This helps to support the joint and aims to reduce overstrain to local soft tissues.


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