The outer rim of your shoulder socket has a ring of cartilage called the labrum. Labrum may become torn in different places with the most common area usually at the front and back, where it the bicep muscles are attached to the tendons. This type of injury is called a SLAP Tear (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior Tear).

Left untreated, these tears can cause chronic pain, limit how much you can use your arm and shoulder and lead to more serious shoulder problems.

Superior Labrum, Anterior to Posterior tears (SLAP tears), also known as labrum tears, represent 4% to 8% of all shoulder injuries.

SLAP tear symptoms

Common SLAP Tear symptoms include:

  • Persistent shoulder pain, dull ache or a sharp pain deep in your shoulder.
  • Certain positions cause shoulder pain, like raising your arm or stretching behind your head.
  • Shoulder pain while doing certain tasks, such as throwing a ball or reaching overhead.
  • Popping noise or a grinding feeling when you move your shoulder.
  • A feeling like your shoulder might pop out of your shoulder blade.

Diagnosis and Tests

Providers use the following tests to diagnose SLAP tears and determine treatment:

  • Physical Examination - Doctor will check your arm and shoulder range of motion and strength.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

types of SLAP tears

There are a number of SLAP types and sub-types. The most common SLAP Tear is the Type 2 tear. Type 2 tears have several sub-types, each describing different ways a type 2 tear might appear:

  • Type 1 - your labrum shows signs of fraying or shredding but still functions. Type 1 tears are often seen in people who are middle-aged or older.
  • Type 2 - the most common SLAP tear type. In this type, the labrum and bicep tendon are torn from the shoulder socket.
  • Type 3 - is when torn labrum tissue is caught in the shoulder joint.
  • Type 4 - the tear that started in your labrum tears your bicep tendon.

SLAP tear treatment

Treatment for SLAP tear will be determined by the severity of your injury with surgery being the last resort. If possible non-surgical conservative treatments, such as medications and/or physiotherapy would be proposed.

If surgery is a must, minimally invasive keyhole surgery will be conducted to repair the SLAP tear.

Here are common SLAP tear treatments:

  • Rest.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Cortisone shots.
  • Slap tear physical therapy.
  • Debridement.
  • Bicep tenodesis.
  • Arthroscopic labral surgery to repair your labrum.

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