SLAP/Labrum Tear

A labrum tear, or SLAP tear, is an inflammation of the tendon that connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder. This debilitating condition can cause pain and limited range of motion in the arm and shoulder.

What You Need To Know About SLAP Tears

What is a Slap Tear?

A SLAP tear, which stands for superior labrum anterior to posterior, is a tear of the labrum in the shoulder joint. The labrum is a ring of cartilage around the glenoid (shoulder socket) that stabilizes the head of the humerus (upper arm). When this injury occurs, the point where the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum is torn or damaged.

There are a few types of labrum tears. One is where the labrum is torn and detached from the bone, usually when a direct trauma to the shoulder occurs. The second type is a tearing or fraying within the labrum itself. The third type is a tear to the area where the biceps tendon attaches to the glenoid.

Labrum tears can be painful and obstruct your daily routine. If you're struggling with shoulder pain from a labrum tear, schedule an appointment with a Resurgens shoulder physician now.

What Causes a SLAP Tear?

Most labrum tears occur as a result of overuse or direct injury. Sustaining direct trauma, like falling on your shoulder, can cause a SLAP tear. They may also develop with repetitive motion or wear-and-tear from aging.

Activities like throwing or serving a ball require movement in your labrum, and sports can increase the risk of general injuries. This is why athletes are more at risk of a SLAP lesion or tear. Degenerative disorders like shoulder osteoarthritis are also associated with increased risk of labrum tears.

SLAP Tear Symptoms

One of the most common SLAP tear symptoms is a sudden episode of pain, often accompanied by a popping or grinding sensation in the shoulder joint. When a labrum tear occurs, you may experience:

  • Pain in the shoulder joint

  • Grinding, locking, popping, or catching while in motion

  • Weakness

  • Limited range of motion

  • Feeling as if the shoulder will "pop out" of the joint

How is a SLAP Tear Diagnosed?

Since there are many types of labrum tears, it's essential to find the right care for your injury. During your appointment with a Resurgens shoulder physician, they will ask you about your medical history and how your condition started. Then they will do a brief physical exam to check your pain levels and range of motion in the shoulder.

After the physical exam, your doctor will most likely order diagnostic imaging tests to rule out any other potential conditions and get a better understanding of your condition. MRIs are usually the best for identifying labrum tears. After gathering this data, your physician will discuss your treatment options and the best path to recovery.

Labrum Tear Treatment

No two injuries are the same, which is why there are several different SLAP tear treatments. Most labral tear treatments are non-surgical, and your physician will create a treatment plan for your specific condition.

Non-Surgical Treatment

For mild to moderate SLAP lesions, non-surgical treatments are very effective. Some non-surgical SLAP tear treatments include:

  • Ice

  • Rest

  • NSAIDs

  • Physical therapy

  • Corticosteroid injections for more severe pain

<h3> Surgical Treatment

If your condition doesn't improve with non-surgical methods, you may need surgical intervention. Many labrum tears are addressed using SLAP repair. During a SLAP repair, the labrum is trimmed and reattached to the glenoid using a minimally-invasive arthroscope. Physical therapy can help you recover from this surgery.

If you're struggling with debilitating shoulder pain, schedule an appointment with a Resurgens shoulder physician and get moving again.

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