What is a torn labrum?

Howard J. Luks, MD
Sports Medicine
The shoulder is composed of two bones.  The humeral head, or the ball of the shoulder.  As well as the glenoid or the socket of the shoulder.  Surprisingly, the socket or glenoid is flat.  Imagine trying to balance a golf ball on a flat golf tee.  Therein lies the importance of the glenoid labrum.  The labrum is a circumfernetial cartilage disc which is triangular in cross-section.  It sits along the edge of the glenoid and the humeral head sits upon the labrum and the glenoid simultaneously.  The labrum deepens the socket based on its triangular cross-section.  It also acts as a bumper to prevent the humeral head or ball from dislocating. The labrum serves another very important role in the shoulder.  Ligaments within our body attach from one bone to another and help maintain stability of our  joints.  The glenoid labrum serves as the attachment of the ligaments to the socket portion of the shoulder.  Therefore, if the labrum is intact then the ligaments themselves should also be intact.  This is yet another way that the labrum serves to maintain stability of the shoulder joint.  I hope this addresses your question.

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