There are three bones in the shoulder joint: the scapula (shoulder blade), the clavicle (collarbone) and the humerus (upper arm bone). The head of the humerus rests in a socket in the shoulder blade called the glenoid which allows the shoulder to move. The head of the humerus is larger than the socket and a soft tissue rim called the labrum surrounds the socket for stabilization of the joint.
Injuries to the labrum occur from acute trauma or repetitive shoulder motion such as throwing or weightlifting. Tears occur either superior (above) or inferior (below) the middle of the glenoid socket. A SLAP tear (superior labrum, anterior to posterior) is a tear of the labrum above the middle of the socket that may also involve the biceps tendon. A Bankart lesion is a tear of the rim below the middle of the glenoid socket that also involves the inferior glenohumeral ligament.
Nonsurgical treatment of labral injuries includes anti-inflammatory medication and rehabilitation exercises. If symptoms persist, surgery may be necessary. During arthroscopic surgery, a small camera called an arthroscope is inserted into the shoulder joint and the rim and biceps tendons are examined. If the injury is only to the rim itself, the torn flap is removed. If the tear also involves the biceps tendon or the tendon is detached, the surgeon will repair and reattach the tendon using sutures and anchors.
For more information, please visit the following webpages on orthoinfo.org: