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Signs of a Labral Tear in the Shoulder After an Accident

The shoulder is a complex mechanism of bone, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. This web of tissue allows our arms a wide range of motion and flexibility. But it doesn’t take much for a traumatic event to damage the shoulder and alter our quality of life.

Woman with shoulder pain

For example, lifting heavy items, performing repetitive overhead motions, or falling from a significant height can damage the labrum and other parts of the shoulder. Shoulder injuries are one of the most common work injuries reported. A labral tear may also occur in a car accident or tractor-trailer accident.

An injury to the labrum can affect a person’s motor skills and movement. If left untreated, the tear may worsen and develop into a permanent disability that affects the victim for the rest of their life.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a torn labrum or other types of shoulder injury due to an accident at work or a reckless driver, you may be entitled to compensation and benefits to help you recover. Contact our legal team to discuss your injuries and treatment needs today.

What Is the Labrum?

As the field of orthopedics and medical technology have advanced, surgeons have discovered a type of injury to a small piece of the shoulder cartilage called the labrum.

The shoulder consists of three connecting bones: the clavicle (collar bone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). These bones are connected by various muscles and ligaments. The labrum lines the rim of the scapula’s glenoid (shoulder socket), helping to create a slightly deeper pocket for the head of the humerus to join.

Shoulder Labrum Tears

Types of Labral Tear Injuries

There are two common types of labral tears.

The first type is known as the SLAP (Superior Labral tear from Anterior to Posterior) tear. There is a tendon that runs from the top of the bicep and loops over the humerus to connect to the labrum. During an accident in which the body is tensed or impacted, the tendon may tug on the labrum, tearing it away from the socket.

Another type of labral tear injury is a Bankart lesion. Ligaments that help hold the shoulder joint together attach to the labrum in certain places. If an injury to the shoulder tears these ligaments, they can detach part of the labrum from the bone.

How Does a Tear Happen?

A SLAP tear occurs when the labrum becomes caught between the socket and the arm bone. This injury may happen due to strenuous or repetitive activity.

A Bankart lesion often causes dislocation or subluxation (when the shoulder slides out partially from the socket). Dislocation may be caused by a sudden blow to the shoulder (such as in a car accident or fall from a ladder) or overuse of the shoulder.

Labral Tear Symptoms

A labral tear can be difficult to diagnose because it shares many similarities with conditions like arthritis, rotator cuff injuries, and tendonitis. Typical indicators include:

  • Sharp pain or dull throbbing ache in the shoulder joint
  • Shoulder pain when raising your arm or performing regular activities
  • Difficulty sleeping due to shoulder pain
  • A feeling of instability in the shoulder, like it might pop out of position
  • Popping noises or a grinding feeling when you move
  • A sharp pinching or “catching” pain with specific movements of the shoulder

Do not ignore these symptoms. A severe labral tear increases the potential for a subluxated or dislocated shoulder.

Labral Tear Diagnosis

Consult with a doctor that specializes in orthopedics. During the exam, tell them how the injury occurred, especially if it happened while at work or due to a motor vehicle accident. This way you have a record of your injury that you can show the insurance company when you file workers’ compensation or personal injury claim.

Certain movements, such as a raised arm, may irritate the tear and create a catching sensation. Tell the doctor when you feel this sensation and any pain you are experiencing.

A labral tear may be visible on an MRI scan or a CAT scan with a special radiological dye that is injected into the shoulder. Neither is very accurate at detecting this injury. In some cases, an arthroscope (a small camera) may be inserted into the shoulder joint for a better view.

Treating a Labral Tear

Symptoms of a labral tear and the arm’s instability can grow worse if left untreated. Physical rehabilitation may help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, and anti-inflammatory medications may help with the pain.

If symptoms persist, then surgical treatment may be needed. Since the problem is so new to surgeons, it’s still unclear what the best option is. Depending on the size of the tear, a surgeon may decide to either reseal the tissue or remove the loose part of the labrum.

It takes around one to two months for the labrum to reattach itself to the bone after surgery, and potentially another couple of months to strengthen. Precautions should be taken to avoid reinjuring the shoulder while healing. In severe cases, the shoulder may need half a year or more to return to comfortable function.

Treatment for a labral tear in the shoulder can take significant time and resources. Don’t let the insurance company ignore your injury and or argue that the injury existed before the accident.

Labral Tear Injury Lawyer - Gary Martin Hays & Associates

We help people who have been injured through no fault of their own. Whether your labral tear injury happened on the job, because of a crash, or due to a fall, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers can help.

Our workers’ compensation and car accident attorneys can help you find local physicians and physical therapists to treat your shoulder injury. While you heal, our team acts as a buffer between you and the insurance company.

Without an experienced attorney representing you, it’s possible the insurance company could deny your shoulder injury claim, ignore your calls, or offer a small settlement sum that is nearly enough to cover all of your injury expenses.

Know your rights and get just compensation for your injuries by contacting Gary Martin Hays & Associates today at (770) 934-8000.

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