About Shoulder Labrum Tear

What is it and what are your treatment options?
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267
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What is a Shoulder Labrum Tear?

The labrum, a circular piece of cartilage that surrounds the glenoid cavity of the scapula, it is one of the most important parts of the shoulder joint. A healthy labrum helps the head of the humerus fit perfectly in the glenoid cavity—stabilizing and moving the shoulder. A SLAP (superior labrum anterior and posterior) tear is the most common labrum injury.

Common Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Instability
  • Swelling
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Inability to move the arm

A labrum tear may cause a partial (subluxation) or complete shoulder dislocation. Overhead sports and movements are the most common causes of labrum tears.

Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) team of shoulder specialists diagnose labrum tears by:

  • Obtaining a complete injury and symptom history
  • Performing a complete shoulder examination
  • Ordering and analyzing medical imaging studies (multiple view X-rays and an MRI)

After an OPA specialist diagnoses a labrum tear, they prescribe a customized treatment plan to decrease symptoms and improve shoulder function as quickly as possible.

Common Treatments:

An accurate diagnosis of the location and severity of the tear is very important. Nonsurgical treatment options may treat some tears. Nonsurgical treatment focuses on decreasing pain and stabilizing the shoulder as much as possible. Commonly included in an OPA specialist’s customized treatment plan are:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

Oral and topical medications decrease pain and inflammation.

Physical Therapy

An OPA approved physical therapist prescribes stretching and strengthening exercises. The therapist teaches you how to perform exercises and carefully monitors your progress. Physical therapy is a very important part of the treatment plan for the labrum tear recover successfully.


Anti-inflammatory and anesthetic medications can be injected into the shoulder joint to help with pain while you are in physical therapy.

Labrum tears that do not respond to nonsurgical treatment options and/or cause severe symptoms, especially frequent shoulder subluxations or dislocations, usually require surgical intervention. During a minimally invasive arthroscopic labrum repair, an OPA specialist locates the torn labrum and repairs it with suture anchors. Following recovery and physical therapy, you regain complete shoulder function.

At OPA, our Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Surgeons are experts in diagnosing and treating shoulder labrum tears

If you are experiencing symptoms of a labrum tear and would like a treatment solution you should contact OPA to schedule an appointment at any of our convenient locations in Anchorage and Eagle River.

Schedule An Appointment

To receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan, please make an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Team Specialists at our offices conveniently located in Anchorage and Wasilla, AK.
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267

OPA Shoulder Team

(click a provider to view profile)

Owen Ala, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Deryk Anderson, DO

Orthopedic Specialist

Tucker Drury, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Adam Ellison, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Robert Hall, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Christopher Manion, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Jeff Moore, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Eli Powell, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Greg Schweiger, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Our Mission

To provide the finest orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal care in North America, offering general and specialized adult care to all Alaskans and visitors.


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