Jay Cutler, quarterback for the Chicago Bears, reportedly underwent surgery earlier this month for a labrum tear he sustained during a late November game against the New York Giants.

Diagnosing a labrum tear can be difficult and often requires a physical examination and diagnostic imaging. See Diagnosing Shoulder Labral Tears

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.

See SLAP Tear Shoulder Injury and Treatment

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:

See SLAP Tear Causes and Risk Factors

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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

See SLAP Tear Symptoms

Being aware of these symptoms may encourage you to seek medical treatment sooner to prevent what can be a season-ending injury, like Cutler’s is expected to be.

See Labrum Tear Treatments

What holds for Cutler’s football future remains to be seen. Most people find themselves in less pain and with more strength after labral tear surgery,1 though it usually takes about 6 months for the shoulder to heal.

Learn more:

Treating Frozen Shoulder

The 3 Types of Shoulder Fractures

References:

  1. SLAP Tears. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00627 Last reviewed: August 2011. Accessed December 12, 2016.