What Is Labral Tears?

Labral tear

The labrum is a rim of soft tissue or fibrous cartilage that surrounds the socket of a ball and socket joint to make it more stable. A labrum gives more support to hold the bones in their proper places. The ligaments that help hold the joint together attach to the labrum. It also provides cushioning to the joint.

In the shoulder, it is called the glenoid labrum and runs around the cavity of the scapula in which the head of the bone of the upper arm (the humerus) fits. In the hip, it is called the acetabular labrum and runs around the cup of the hip joint.

A labral tear can occur as the result of an injury, but is also often related to a structural abnormality or osteoarthritis.


Many labral tears cause no signs or symptoms. Occasionally, however, you may experience:

  • A locking sensation in your hip or shoulder
  • Pain in your hip, groin or shoulder
  • Stiffness or limited range of motion in your hip or shoulder

Treatment at Penn

The treatment of a labral tear is dependent on the severity of the symptoms and the specific details of the tear.

Treatment typically begins conservatively with rest, ice and medication (over-the-counter pain medications). If the pain begins to subside, physical therapy will likely be prescribed to help improve range of motion and stability. If the knee remains painful or stiff, surgery is recommended.

Penn Programs & Services for Labral Tears

Provider holding patient's shoulder while patient holds neck
Shoulder Pain

Penn orthopaedic specialists offer comprehensive surgical and nonsurgical options to treat every type of shoulder condition.

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Sports Medicine Program

We know you want to get back to your favorite activities. Learn about our unique approach to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports-related injuries.

Joint Replacement Program

The Penn Joint Replacement Program brings together a team of doctors, nurses and physical therapists who take a whole-body approach to diagnosing and treating hip and knee arthritis and chronic pain.

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