At some point in our lives we have all taken a fall during sports or maybe we have just been lucky enough to slip on the ice.  Our first reaction is to stabilize our body and protect our head from making contact with the ground.  This built in reaction involves sticking our arms our to ‘catch’ our body.

It is a very good likelihood that in putting our arm out to catch us we are going to cause an injury to our shoulder.  There are several types of injuries that we can sustain but in this section we will discuss only dislocations and labral tears.

Shoulder dislocation is an injury that occurs when the top of the arm bone becomes disconnected from the scapula. It causes intense pain, and may cause the shoulder to feel mushy, as if the underlying bone is gone, usually the humeral head or the top of the arm bone.  It is most likely to happen when we fall on our tail end and catch ourselves with our arm out behind us.  The force that is placed through our arm up into the shoulder is enough to push the bone of the arm our of its socket into the muscular area to the front of your shoulder.

If shoulder dislocation wasn’t bad enough, we also have to be concerned with the nerves and blood vessels that run through that area.  A severely damaged nerve can lead to other problems that may impact your life is unsavory ways.  The blood vessels that are in this area are important in that without them, the tissues of your arm (muscle, tendon, nerve and bone) will all begin to die.

For this reason if you have suffered an shoulder dislocation it is important to seek medical care as quickly as possible to ensure that these tissues have maintained their integrity.

Bankart Fracture

Labral Tears

There are several patterns of a torn labrum (SLAP and Bankart Lesions). The difference being the location and direction of the tears.

The Labrum is a small cartilage pad that separates the bone of your arm from the socket of your shoulder or the Glenoid Fossa.  It functions similarly to the pad in your knee the Meniscus in that it helps to create the smooth gliding of the joint that is needed to move your arm at the shoulder.

SLAP lesion is damage to the uppermost part of the labrum and are common in overhead activities particularly in throwing athletes.  This injury may change the activity of a baseball pitcher, but it is also one that the same baseball pitch can recover from.

A SLAP lesion is usually characterized by a dull throbbing ache in the joint and may be accompanied by a feeling of muscle weakness and possibly a catching feeling.

Bankart Lesion is an injury of the front of the shoulder usually due to repeated shoulder dislocations.  Due to the frequency of shoulder dislocations, the ligaments become lax and allow the arm bone to fall out of its place.  This is usually an indication for surgical repair.

A bony bankart lesion includes a fracture of the bottom from part of the bone that holds the shoulder in place.  It is easily visualized in the photo.

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