MOA Blog

Is My Shoulder Pain Caused By a Labral Tear?

Posted by Chad Micucci, M.D.

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Dec 22, 2021 10:36:18 AM

Are you experiencing shoulder pain? You're not alone. 

Unfortunately, shoulder injuries are quite common––and pain in the shoulder only worsens with continued activity and use. The shoulder comprises several bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It's an integral part of the body and experiences significant use in the workplace, sports, and routine activities. 

Read on to discover potential causes of shoulder pain and if it could be related to a labral tear.



Any number of factors could cause shoulder pain. The shoulder is a body region that requires great stability to operate correctly. If something goes wrong, it can throw the shoulder out of balance, and if continued to use, increases the risk of further injury. 

Some common injuries include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Dislocations and separations
  • Labral tear
  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis
  • Torn rotator cuffs
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Arthritis



One likely culprit for injury to the shoulder is the labrum. John Hopkins Medicine defines the labrum as a thick piece of tissue attached to the rim of the shoulder socket that helps keep the ball of the joint in place.

A labral tear is often associated with pain in the shoulder region. Labral tears have a few noticeable signs like shoulder instability, and in some cases, a feeling of grinding or locking while the shoulder is operational. 



Pain from this kind of injury typically arises in athletes who exercise overhead movements or with laborers and can lead to impaired or disabled movement and strength.

Common causes include:

  • Trauma, such as a fracture or dislocated shoulder
  • Overuse
  • Repetitive motion

Athletes who compete in golf, baseball, or tennis are particularly susceptible to shoulder pain and injury. Labral tears can also result from aging, and treatment depends upon the severity of the tear. Other labral tear risk factors include degenerative conditions, like osteoarthritis.



According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, diagnosing a labral tear can be difficult. For this reason, it's best to open up a conversation with your orthopedic specialist or surgeon. 

Non-Surgical Treatment

The labrum can heal with rest and physical therapy. However, surgeons will usually conduct a physical exam and order X-rays to determine the severity of the tear and decide if treatment should include surgical repair.

Labral tears may be treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and cortisone injections, followed by the gradual stretching of the shoulder in the presence of a physical therapist or specialist. 

Surgical Treatment

The point at which a surgeon may pursue surgical treatment is when the tear remains symptomatic, despite several non-surgical efforts. For example, if physical therapy fails to restore the person or athlete to their respective position, surgery might be necessary to reattach the ligaments. 

Recovery Time

As always, recovery depends on the severity of the injury, treatment pursued, and the receptibility of the patient. Most patients endure a recovery time anywhere from four to six months. Overhead athletes may require a more extended recovery period. 



 Don't wait to see a doctor for your shoulder pain. Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, Inc. (MOA) is a leading orthopedic practice in the region. Our staff is proud of our doctors' education and experience for each patient. 

Dr. Micucci is a Shoulder Specialist at Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, with expertise in Arthroscopy, including Rotator Cuff Repair and Shoulder Instability. If you are suffering from a shoulder injury, Dr. Miccucci can develop a treatment plan to help relieve your shoulder pain. 

You don't have to live with shoulder pain. Schedule an appointment today, and let us help you get back to normal.



Chad Micucci, M.D.

Written by Chad Micucci, M.D.

Dr. Micucci joined Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, Inc. in September of 2010. He received his undergraduate degree at West Virginia University in Physical Therapy and his medical degree at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. Following medical school, he completed his residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Micucci completed a fellowship in Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy at Orthopedic Research of Virginia. He is a native of Follansbee, WV and has been practicing in North Central West Virginia since 2010. He is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and has been certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons since 2012. Dr. Micucci received multiple awards during his training, including the American Orthopedic Association Resident Leadership Award. He continuously updates his training to reflect the most recent orthopedic treatment options and techniques for his patients. He frequently gives talks to the surrounding community on knee injuries and arthritis and their treatments. Dr. Micucci has been published in numerous orthopedic journals, include The Arthroscopy Journal. He serves as team physician for Clay Battelle and North Marion High Schools.

Topics: shoulder pain, shoulder specialist, labral tear