Shoulder labral tears can result from a variety of activities or events. Most often the labrum is torn secondarily to a dislocation or some form of trauma like a fall while skiing or sudden impact while playing sports. When the shoulder dislocates, excessive stress is usually directed to the labrum, causing it to tear.
Also common among athletes is recurrent micro-trauma. As opposed to a solitary traumatic event, repetitive overhead motions and activities can progressively damage the labrum causing pain and labral damage. Individuals whose work entails lifting heavy objects are also susceptible, but a simple slip and fall on the ice can result in a labral tear.
Although many labral tears can be treated non-surgically with a comprehensive physical therapy program to strengthen the surrounding muscles, certain tears require surgery. Additionally, an athlete with a labral tear who plays a contact sport is at high risk for re-dislocation, which may cause even greater damage, so surgery is usually recommended. For a predictable and faster return to sports activity, arthroscopic repair of the labrum is a highly successful treatment. Repairs can even be customized to the patient, depending upon the type of activities they do.