The physician will first take a history of the patient's injury in order to learn how it occurred. As mentioned earlier, the pain from a labral tear is located at the site of the injury, and is usually referred to as being deep inside the shoulder. A thorough physical exam may reveal other sources of injury or another disorder. During a physical examination of the shoulder:

  • the physician will measure motion to reveal any stiffness, which can be a sign of a labral tear.
  • an instability exam will be performed.
  • the O'Brien's test which focuses on the biceps and reveals pain, can help diagnose a labral tear.


  • X-rays will rule out other problems such as arthritis, fracture, impingement, or malignancy.

    The confirming test for a labral tear is an MRI preceded by an arthrogram. This procedure greatly enhances the diagnostic accuracy by allowing tears of the labrum to be seen more clearly.

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