Shoulder Safety Part 5: managing labrum injuries

Anders Hendricks, Aurora Sports Medicine Institute

Anders is a licensed athletic traininer at the Aurora Sports Medicine Institute in Burlington and at Badger High School in Lake Geneva.

Another common injury to the shoulder is inflammation or damage to the labrum.  As stated in a previous entry, the labrum exists on the edge of the glenoid fossa on the scapula as a thin, cartilaginous ring designed to deepen the glenohumeral joint.

To quote an example from an earlier blog entry, the shoulder joint can be compared to a golf ball resting on a tee; the job of the labrum is to make the shoulder joint more stable.  The labrum also serves as an attachment site for the long head of the biceps.

Commonly, the labrum will sustain damage from shoulder dislocations or traumatic events to the shoulder, such as falling on an outstretched hand (FOOSH injury), or during shoulder intensive activities, such as over head throwing or swimming.

Commonly, injuries to the labrum will be classified as SLAP lesions, which indicates the tear is on the Superior portion (top) of the Labrum, as well as Anteriorly (in front) and Posteriorly (in back) of the biceps tendon that attaches to the top of the labrum.

Patients who are experiencing tears or damage to their labrum will commonly experience pain in the shoulder with activity, and may specifically notice pain in the posterior (back) portion of the shoulder.  Furthermore, patients may report a “clunking” or “popping” sensation in the shoulder, which can be attributed to the instability in the joint that results from a tear of the labrum.

If a person is experiencing any signs or symptoms associated with damage to the labrum, it is important that they make an appointment to be evaluated by a physician.  In the meantime, improving the stability of the shoulder is an excellent way to decrease symptoms and avoid excess damage to the shoulder.

A simple way to improve shoulder stability is to perform theraband rows (which are explained in Shoulder Blog #3 – Rotator Cuff Anatomy).  Rows will help to activate muscles that will increase the stability of the shoulder, resulting in less pain and inflammation over the shoulder joint.

In addition to theraband rows, another excellent exercise to improve the stability of the shoulder and reduce the chances of sustaining damage to the labrum, is called serratus punches.

This exercise, as the name implies, focuses on strengthening the serratus anterior, a muscle that starts on the medial (inside) boarder of the scapula and attaches to the ribs. Similar to rows, when this muscle is activated, it helps to stabilize the shoulder blade, thus increasing the stability of the shoulder joint and helping to reduce any translation between the head of the humerus and the glenoid fossa.

To perform a serratus punch, a person lies flat on their back with their shoulders relaxed and in contact with the surface they are lying on.  From there, the person will raise one arm at a time so it is directly overhead (pictured here).  To start, a person should attempt to complete 10 repetitions of the exercise in a row, and then add weight as the exercise becomes easier.

As always, if readers have any questions or comments about this topic, or past and future topics, please feel free to email me at anders.hendricks@aurora.org.  Thanks for reading!

Follow the new Shoulder Series with weekly updates here at our fitness blog!

Part 1: Shoulders: An Introduction

Part 2: Bone Shoulder Anatomy

Part 3: Rotator Cuff Anatomy

Part 4: Rotator Cuff Injuries

Don’t give up the sport — give up the pain! Visit the Aurora Sports Medicine Institute at 13 Wisconsin locations, visit our website, follow us on Facebook, browse our YouTube channel, or call our hotline at 1-800-219-7776.

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About Anders Hendricks

Anders Hendricks is a Licensed Athletic Trainer for the Aurora Sports Medicine Institute in Burlington and at Badger High School in Lake Geneva. Anders studied Kinesiology and Athletic Training at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and has worked as an athletic trainer at the University of Wisconsin at Parkside. In the summer and fall, he enjoys following the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers, and ice hockey and downhill skiing in the winter. Anders started blogging to give people a better understanding of what athletic training is, and how licensed athletic trainers help the patients of Aurora Health Care live well.
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One Response to Shoulder Safety Part 5: managing labrum injuries

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