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The symptoms of a superior labrum tear

Some painful shoulder conditions are caused by a superior labrum tear or avulsion. The labrum is a ring-shaped cartilaginous structure that resembles the meniscus in the knee and attaches to the glenoid (scapula). The tendon of the long head of the biceps inserts onto the top of the labrum.
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The symptoms of a superior labrum tear

Some painful shoulder conditions are caused by a superior labrum tear or avulsion. The labrum is a ring-shaped cartilaginous structure that resembles the meniscus in the knee and attaches to the glenoid (scapula). The tendon of the long head of the biceps inserts onto the top of the labrum.
Contact us to make an appointment

The symptoms of a superior labrum tear

Some painful shoulder conditions are caused by a superior labrum tear or avulsion. The labrum is a ring-shaped cartilaginous structure that resembles the meniscus in the knee and attaches to the glenoid (scapula). The tendon of the long head of the biceps inserts onto the top of the labrum.

The biceps has two insertion sites on the shoulder: one on the labrum (long head of the biceps) and another a little further inward on the coracoid process of the scapula (short head of the biceps).

What are the most common causes?

Superior labrum tears can be caused by repetitive forceful movements (as seen in baseball pitchers) or by excessive traction by the long head of the biceps (traumatic avulsion). People with loose ligaments (ligament hyperlaxity) are also at increased risk.

What are the symptoms?

The patient generally reports symptoms during large movements accompanied by a clicking sound or catching sensation.

How is it diagnosed?

A distinction must be made here between a SLAP lesion and the presence of an anatomical abnormality of the labrum. Labral tears are very common and are often discovered by chance during arthroscopy or a MRI scan. In other words, a labral tear is most often asymptomatic (some people call it a variation of normal), whereas a painful SLAP lesion is quite rare.

The physical examination may reveal a near-normal condition and the clinician will then try to reproduce the click (O’Brien’s test) or rule out any other shoulder pathology (bursitis, impingement, etc.). Radiological imaging, even by magnetic resonance, may very well not show the superior labrum tear.

The injection of a contrast medium into the shoulder (gadolinium arthrogram) prior to MRI increases the accuracy of this test. We call it “arthrogram-MRI or simply AMRI). In short, this condition is difficult to diagnose and a mere suspicion will sometimes lead the surgeon to perform arthroscopy to reveal the tear.

The physical examination may reveal a near-normal condition and the clinician will then try to reproduce the clicking sound.

Physical examination

MRI with athrogram

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Five months after my operation, despite the severity of my wound, I am again able to ride a bike without difficulty or pain. I had an impeccable and attentive follow-up from Dr. Beauchamp. Thank you!

A few client testimonials

Don’t just take our word for it: read on to see what our patients have to say!

« Five months after my operation for a severe injury, I was able to ride my bicycle once again without exertion or pain. The medical follow-up done by Dr. Beauchamp was impeccable and attentive. Thank you! »

« After injuring a shoulder and discovering that the public system would not be effective for me, I made an appointment to see Dr. Beauchamp. Ten weeks after my operation, I resumed my normal activities and was completely pain-free. I strongly recommend this amazing team. »

« I had my operation just three weeks after the first examination. Paying for the operation was well worth it, because after 10 months spent waiting for the public system, I still could not get an appointment with an orthopedist. It is a well-known fact that an operation like mine needs to be done quickly to prevent muscle atrophy. Dr. Beauchamp is a good listener, empathetic, a good man and an excellent orthopedic surgeon! »