Torn Labrum – What’s That?

Beth Sullivan | May 14th, 2019

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Miguel Andújar has a torn labrum and is back on the IL. I am sure if you are a fan and not a medical professional, you are asking – What is a Labrum?; Does it have to be fixed?; How is it fixed; How long does it take to recover from the injury?; Will XXX (insert current afflicted player name here) be the same player they were before the injury after the repair? These are all good, valid questions.

What is the Glenoid Labrum?

The Glenoid Labrum is a rubbery fibrocartilaginous structure that lines the shoulder joint to provide more surface area for the head of the humerus and the glenoid fossa of the scapula. As you can see, the labrum is like a washer between the 2 bones and acts to limit motion of one bone on the other. The labrum also acts as a shock absorber as the shoulder is moved the labrum helps to limit the stressors on the other muscular, tendon and ligamentous structures that make up the very complex shoulder joint. The labrum is also the point of attachment for many other ligaments and tendons that together form the shoulder joint complex.

Does it have to be fixed? How is it Fixed?

Does everyone who has a torn labrum need it repaired – No. Can athletes who play professional sports continue to play with a torn labrum – Yes and No – Some players play through a torn labrum and have the repair done in the offseason. The usual issue with this injury is the amount of pain the player can withstand and looseness of the shoulder when it is stressed by using it during a competition. A labral tear can be left to “heal” on its own or if deemed necessary, arthroscopic surgery can be performed to inspect the injured area and either trim off ragged tissue at the injury site or make plans for more encompassing surgical repair depending on the exact extent of the injury. There is research currently going on to use stem cells to treat labral tears, this is being done more overseas since a lot of this type of research is not approved to be done in the US. The outcomes have been promising in the early stages of the research.

How long does recovery take? Will XXX be the same player?

Without surgery, and adequate rehab and healing time, most players can return to playing close to their previous level of proficiency after about 2-3 months. There is an increased risk of reinjury or further injury to the shoulder, and players who miss time because of this type injury may have multiple stints on the IL during the course of a 162 game baseball season.

If the player needs surgery to repair the labral tear, the average recovery time is nine to twelve months with pitchers requiring an average of 15 months 6 days to return to the playing field. Studies have been done which show both an increase and a decrease in average throwing velocity and in mean swing velocity for hitters.

Recovery from this sports injury like all injuries requires commitment from the player to embrace the rehab plan and patience to allow the body to heal before trying to resume playing their sport. The MRI results on Andújar’s shoulder should be out later today, and then a decision can be made to determine the best course of action to help him recover from this injury and return to playing as quickly as possible.

Update: Miguel Andújar will have surgery to repair his torn labrum. He will miss the rest of the 2019 season.

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Main Image Credit: https://www.slideshare.net/QuanFuGan/the-shoulder-joint

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