Sports Medicine

Shoulder Labrum Tear Symptoms You Need To Know


What is a labrum tear?


A labrum tear, also called a SLAP tear, is a tear to the ring of cartilage surrounding your shoulder’s socket. This injury is common among athletes participating in sports that involve repetitive throwing or overhead motions, such as baseball and volleyball, as well as football. Labrum tears can also result from a traumatic event, like a fall, and with age due to wear and tear.


Unique labrum tear symptoms

No one wants to watch the game from the sidelines. Here are the labrum tear symptoms you need to watch out for:

1. Deep, achy pain. Pain is usually felt deep inside the shoulder, and is commonly described as an ache rather than a nerve-type or stinging pain. You may feel pain in the back of your shoulder; if the biceps tendon is involved then you may feel pain in the front of your shoulder.

2. Pain with overhead motions. It’s also common to feel pain during overhead activities, like serving a tennis ball.

3. Popping, clicking, or grinding in your shoulder. Popping, grinding, and/or clicking sensations are reported by some patients with this injury. Crepitus is the medical term for these symptoms.

4. Shoulder weakness. Your shoulder may feel weak, and it may feel like it could “pop out” of place.1 Even if you’re an expert in the weight room, a labrum tear can make lifting objects and weights overhead a challenge.

5. Decline in sports performance. Your sports performance may also not be up to par. For example, a baseball pitcher may notice a decline in pitch speed.


If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, we strongly suggest getting it evaluated. At LiveSmart Chiropractic, we do a thorough exam and explain to you what is going on and what treatment is best.

This is not an all-inclusive list and symptoms do vary from person to person. Let us know if you have any questions and we'd be happy to point you in the right direction.

Other Symptoms of SLAP tears can include:

  • Pain when moving or keeping the shoulder in specific positions. Certain shoulder activities, such as lifting objects overhead, throwing a baseball or hitting a tennis ball, may cause pain. Other causes of pain include holding the shoulder in certain positions. Examples include: extending the arm to lift an object, stretching the arm behind the head or placing the arm in a throwing position.
  • Decline in sports performance. Athletes may notice a decline in sports performance, including a decrease in shoulder power, and could describe a “dead arm” sensation.
  • Reduced range of motion. Patients may find a reduced range of shoulder motion: difficulty with reaching movements, and the inability to throw or engage in overhead activity with the arms.
  • Discomfort when lifting items, particularly overhead. A weightlifter, for example, may feel pain when lifting weights overhead.
  • Difficult to identify shoulder pain. Deep, aching shoulder pain is a widely cited SLAP tear symptom, yet it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact location. Pain is commonly felt at the back of the shoulder; if the SLAP tear includes the biceps tendon, pain may be felt at the front of the shoulder.
  • Locking, popping, clicking or grinding in the shoulder. While these are general complaints that may apply to a variety of shoulder injuries, SLAP tear patients may also cite popping, clicking, grinding or locking sensations in the shoulder.
  • Shoulder weakness. SLAP tear injuries can cause feelings of unsteadiness, as though the shoulder will “pop out” of its socket.
  • Pain when sleeping on either shoulder, but more specifically on the opposite side of shoulder pain.