September 6th, 2013

Health N' Sports: Labrum injuries

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Labrum injuries
Katherine English was a star player for Sacred Heart's tennis team

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic shares insight on the labrum

As a part of the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic, the Sports Rehab Team physical therapists are knowledgeable and trained in the latest advancements and techniques available in sports rehabilitation.

On a weekly basis, the Health N’ Sports Update will give information on prevention, recovery, and include special offers, as well as general health tips that would be beneficial to all. If there is a specific topic you’d like to know or hear more about, email future suggestions to

Certain sports can lead to areas of injury with the labrum. Sports that call for overhead throws such as tennis, volleyball and baseball may cause extra use of the arms. J. Steve Smith, M.D. answers questions on the labrum, usage injuries and rehabilitation.

What is a torn labrum?

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint.  The top of the arm bone (humerus) forms the ball and the socket is formed from the shoulder blade bone (scapula).  The labrum is a ring of connective tissue that surrounds the socket.  Ligaments, the shoulder capsule, and the biceps tendon attach to the labrum.  The labrum helps to keep the ball seated within the socket.

What are the symptoms of a labral tear? 

Pain in the shoulder can come from several areas…the labrum is one of those.  Patients often have pain with certain overhead movements.  Patients may also experience arm weakness, shoulder instability, and popping or clicking in their shoulder.

How do labral injuries occur? 

The labrum can be injured in a number of ways:shoulder dislocation or a partial shoulder dislocation (subluxation) sudden, traumatic jerking movements caused to the shoulder repetitive overhead movements and heavy lifting throwing athletes (e.g. baseball, tennis, volleyball) falls onto your arm

What is the best treatment for a labral tear? 

The first line of treatment for almost all shoulder injuries is physical therapy.  The shoulder has a tendency to get stiff and therapy is important to maintain range of motion and improve strength. Anti-inflammatory medicine, ice, and injections can also aid in recovery.  If these non-operative treatments do not help the problem, then an MRI is ordered to get more specific information.  Surgery is an option for some patients if non-operative treatment fails.

How long is recovery from labral surgery? 

Physical therapy is initiated soon after surgery to regain safe range of motion.  After several weeks, motion is increased and strengthening is begun with therapy.  Overhead throwing athletes will take a few months before they can return to their sport.  Return to work can be as early as few days, but that depends on the physical demands of your job.

Questions and Answers with St. Xavier Tennis Coach Kerry Lancaster

1) What injuries occur mostly with tennis?

Hip and arm issues like tennis elbow are most common injuries. There are also quad and ham pull injuries.

2) What exercises can help student athletes get ready to play tennis?

Stretching, core and cross-training can help student athletes. Student athletes need to be in decent shape at the start of the season.

3) What treatment or healing advice do you have for tennis players?

The basic RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation).

4) What advice do you have for student athletes who are beginners at tennis? (How can they avoid injuries?)

Tennis players (beginners) need to built into it and listen to his/her own body.

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic & Sports Rehab Center

Main Office: 502-897-1794

Physical Therapy: 502-897-1790


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