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SLAP Tears

A superior labrum anterior to posterior (SLAP) lesion tear is an injury to the labrum of the shoulder, which is the ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint that helps stabilize it. A SLAP tear occurs both in front (anterior) and back (posterior) of this attachment point. The biceps tendon can be involved in the injury, as well.

Causes and risk factors:

  • Falling on outstretched arm
  • Forceful pull
  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Overuse
  • Repetitive overhead sports such as weightlifters or baseball pitchers
  • Throwing or trying to catch a heavy object
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Aging

Symptoms:

Symptoms of this injury can resemble many other shoulder issues:

  • Sensation of “catching”
  • Instability
  • Weakness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Pain when throwing or lifting objects

Treatment:

Conservative treatments such as rest, ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication, and physical therapy can be effective. If these non-surgical treatment options do not improve pain, surgical treatment may be required. Commonly, this injury is repaired with arthroscopic surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon will insert a tiny camera and surgical instruments into your shoulder to repair it. Recovery time varies, but the majority of patients have successful outcomes with improved shoulder strength and less pain after surgery.