QIs a labrum tear a common throwing injury, how does it happen, and what can be done about it? How is this different from a SLAP lesion?
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The labrum is an egg-shaped layer of cartilage between the upper end of the arm and the glenoid socket in which the arm sits and moves. In theory the labrum makes the socket deeper and more stable - but it can tear.
Every injury to the shoulder is potentially career ending which is why you should always seek the advice of a sports medicine specialist. However, that's even more true with the labrum because the ways in which the biceps labral complex (BLC) attaches the humerus and glenoid vary greatly in individuals.
The joint itself is buried under many layers of muscles, nerves, ligaments, and cushioning tissue. The labrum is at the very deepest level. (The animation will give you a much better idea of how the shoulder is constructed.
There are 3 basic types of BLC connection, defined by the main points of attachment and also labrum shape, and the catch is there is no way to know which way your built without invasive medical treatment that you'd rather not have (and is often not necessary).
The most common labrum problem you may have heard about in baseball is a SLAP lesion which happens at the top of the shoulder joint and is often caused by overhand throwing. A lesion is basically "fraying" of the labrum which can lead to a full tear. (Other labrum tears can be caused by impingement and affect the rotator cuff as well - covered in separate pages.)
If medical intervention is needed it's usually done with arthroscopic surgery. If rehab is enough to help the shoulder compensate and recover than that process starts with basic Jobe Exercises and then progresses to strength and conditioning work - stretch tubing recommended.