A labral tear, also known as a SLAP tear, is an injury to ring of cartilage that surrounds the the socket of the shoulder joint. The term SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. In a SLAP injury, the top (superior) part of the labrum is injured. This top area is also where the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum. A SLAP tear occurs both in front (anterior) and back (posterior) of this attachment point.
Injuries to the superior labrum can be caused by acute trauma or by repetitive shoulder motion. An acute SLAP injury may result from a fall onto an outstretched arm, rapid or forceful moment of the arm when its above shoulder level, shoulder dislocation or forceful pulling on the arm.
People who participate in repetitive overhead sports, such as throwing athletes or weightlifters, can experience labrum tears as a result of repeated shoulder motion. However, many SLAP tears are the result of wearing down of the labrum that occurs slowly over time. In patients over 30 to 40 years of age, tearing or fraying of the superior labrum can be seen as a normal process of aging.
The common symptoms of a SLAP tear are similar to many other shoulder problems. They include:
- Decreased range of motion
- A sensation of locking, popping or grinding
- Pain with movement of the shoulder or holding the shoulder in specific positions
- Pain with lifting objects, especially overhead
- Decrease in shoulder strength
- A feeling that the shoulder is going to pop out
OKC Orthopedics, Sports & Pain Medicine is committed to helping patients with AC Arthritis return to the highest level of activity possible. Our team of orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and athletic trainers work together to tailor a treatment plan to each patient’s needs and goals.
In most cases, the initial treatment for a SLAP injury in non-surgical. However, surgery may be recommended if your pain does not improve. Our orthopedic surgeons are experts in shoulder arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure in which small instruments and a thin, flexible medical device with a camera pass through an incision the size of a small Band-Aid. After surgery, our physical therapists guide each patient through a personalized rehabilitation program to restore strength and mobility.