To answer this question, I’m going to tell you the story of “Ted”. (Correct, not his real name. And spoiler alert, yes, acupuncture works very well for shoulder pain.) Ted came to me because he had injured his shoulder in a skiing accident three months prior. An MRI revealed he had rotator cuff tendinitis, and a labral tear. The shoulder labrum is pictured to the right.
What is a Shoulder Labrum?
- A labrum is made of rubbery fibrocartilage
- Lines the the lip of the shoulder joint
- It acts as a cushion to the joint
- Holds the ball and socket joint securely together
Labral tears, specifically a SLAP tear in Ted’s case, are pretty common shoulder injury. They can happen when a person falls onto an outstretched arm, which probably happened to Ted while he was skiing. They often occur to baseball and racquet sport players, due to a lot of wear and tear on the shoulder joint. When there is a tear, it becomes unstable, and can be quite painful.
Symptoms of a Labral Tear
- More pain with overarm activity
- Dull achy pain
- Painful to sleep on affected arm
- Popping and grinding in joint