The shoulder joint is one of the most complex types of joints in the human body. In June, Roy Halladay, pitcher for the Phillies and two-time Cy Young Award winner, underwent shoulder surgery. According to CBS Sports, the pro 36-year-old Phillies right-hander suffered a frayed labrum, a partially torn rotator cuff, and bone spurs.

At the Shoulder Surgery Center of Excellence, our orthopedic shoulder surgeon specialists are leaders in the field of minimally invasive surgical methods for various shoulder problems. To find the best shoulder surgeon in Los Angeles and to schedule a consultation, please contact our experts at (888) 847-0357!

Types of Shoulder Cartilage

To understand exactly what was wrong with Halladay’s shoulder, you should be aware that the shoulder joint contains two different types of cartilage – hyaline cartilage and fibrocartilage. Each of these has different functions within the shoulder. The hyaline cartilage helps to prevent bone on bone contact within the shoulder socket, and acts as a protective barrier between the internal surface of the arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade. The glenoid labrum is a fibrocartilage structure that surrounds the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) against the glenoid fossa (the socket part of the ball-and-socket joint) and helps it stay in place within the shoulder joint.

Types of Shoulder Cartilage Tears

Since the shoulder is so complex, it is not uncommon to have tears in the cartilage which make up the joint. Some of the most common tears include:

  • SLAP Tears – A superior labral anterior and posterior (SLAP) tear occurs at the top of the shoulder joint. Patients who participate in sports involving repetitive overhead activities, such as baseball, weightlifting or swimming, may be more susceptible to SLAP tears.
  • Bankart Lesion – Labral tears may occur in a certain area during a shoulder dislocation or AC joint separation, in which the bones are displaced from their natural position. A tear in this area is called a Bankart lesion, and it can make the head of the humerus unstable within the shoulder joint. People suffering this type of injury tend to have shoulders that “pop out of joint.”
  • Hyaline Cartilage Damage – This injury is typically due to chronic wear and tear on the inner surface of the joint, resulting in painful bone-on-bone movement.

Symptoms of a Labral Tear of the Shoulder

Cartilage damage can occur chronically, leading to either slow degeneration of the joint or a sudden, acute injury. With chronic damage, the symptoms are less obvious and discomfort may increase slowly over time. In an acute injury that causes a tear to the labrum, the following symptoms can rapidly develop:

  • Pain with overhead lifting
  • Pain with holding or moving the shoulder in certain positions
  • Decreased shoulder strength
  • Instability of the shoulder (feeling like it might slip out)
  • Feeling like you have a “dead arm”

How Are Cartilage Tears Treated?

The treatment for the different types of cartilage tears can vary depending on how much they have disrupted the tissue. Mild tears to the labrum may be able to heal naturally with rest, icing and some mild pain relievers/anti inflammatory medication.

However, with some tears of the labrum, an orthopedic shoulder surgeon may need to perform a surgery known as shoulder arthroscopy. During shoulder arthroscopy, the surgeon will use several small incisions to insert a camera and small tools into the joint. This will allow the surgeon to visualize and treat the tears found, or any other problems within the joint. The arthroscopy is done as an outpatient procedure, allowing you to go home the same day.

Contact The Best Shoulder Surgeon in Los Angeles

At the Shoulder Surgery Center of Excellence, our team of orthopedic surgeons is skilled at performing the most minimally-invasive arthroscopy repairs, and determining what shoulder conditions might not need surgery, while making sure their office the best possible patient care. If you have any questions, please feel free to individually contact our shoulder surgeon experts in Los Angeles, or please call us at (888)847-0357 to schedule a consultation!

Next, learn about more shoulder pain causes.