Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior (SLAP)

A Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior (SLAP) tear is an injury to the labrum of the shoulder, which is the ring of cartilage that surrounds 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. The biceps tendon can be involved in the injury, as well.

Cause

Injuries to the superior labrum can be caused by acute trauma or by repetitive shoulder motion.

An acute SLAP injury may result from:

  • A motor vehicle accident
  • A fall onto an outstretched arm
  • Forceful pulling on the arm, such as when trying to catch a heavy object
  • Rapid or forceful movement of the arm when it is above the level of the shoulder
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • People who participate in repetitive overhead sports, such as throwing athletes or weightlifters, can experience labrum tears as a result of repeated shoulder motion.

Many SLAP tears, however, are the result of a wearing down of the labrum that occurs slowly over time. In patients over 40 years of age, tearing or fraying of the superior labrum can be seen as a normal process of aging. This differs from an acute injury in a person under the age of 40.

Shoulder Conditions

  • Bankart Lesion
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture
  • Broken Collarbone
  • Burners & Stinger
  • Bursitis
  • Chronic Shoulder Instability
  • Fracture of the Shoulder Blade
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Labral Tear
  • Rotator Cuff Tear
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Shoulder Dislocation
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Shoulder Separation
  • Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior (SLAP)
  • Throwing Injuries[/li_item|

Shoulder Treatments

  • Acromioplasty
  • Arthroscopic Bankart Repair
  • Biceps Tendon Rupture Surgery
  • Biceps Tenodesis
  • Broken Collarbone Surgery
  • Bursitis/Shoulder Impingement Surgery
  • Closed Reduction Shoulder Surgery
  • Labrum Surgery
  • Instability Shoulder Surgery
  • Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Revision Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Repair
  • Shoulder Arthritis Surgery
  • Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Treatment
  • Shoulder Separation Surgery
  • Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery
  • Throwing Injury Surgeries

Conservative Treatments

The Orthopedic physicians at Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic provide conservative treatment options for Shoulder conditions and injuries.

Symptoms

The common symptoms of a SLAP tear are similar to many other shoulder problems. They include:

  • A sensation of locking, popping, catching, or grinding
  • Pain with movement of the shoulder or with 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 of joint”
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pitchers may notice a decrease in their throw velocity, or the feeling of having a “dead arm” after pitching

Diagnosis

Physical Examination & Patient History

During your first visit, your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and medical history. During the physical examination, your doctor will check all the structures of your injury, and compare them to your non-injured anatomy.  Most injuries can be diagnosed with a thorough physical examination.

Imaging Tests

Imaging Tests Other tests which may help your doctor confirm your diagnosis include:

X-rays. Although they will not show any injury, x-rays can show whether the injury is associated with a broken bone.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. If your injury requires an MRI, this study is utilized to create a better image of soft tissues injuries. However, an MRI may not be required for your particular injury circumstance and will be ordered based on a thorough examination by your Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic Orthopedic physician.

Treatment Options

Non-Surgical

In many cases, the initial treatment for a SLAP injury is nonsurgical. Treatment options may include:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen reduce pain and swelling.

Physical therapy. Specific exercises will restore movement and strengthen your shoulder.

Flexibility and range-of-motion exercises will include stretching the shoulder capsule, which is the strong connective tissue that surrounds the joint. Exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your shoulder can relieve pain and prevent further injury. This exercise program can be continued anywhere from 3 to 6 months, and usually involves working with a qualified physical therapist.

Surgical

Your doctor may recommend surgery if your pain does not improve with nonsurgical methods.

Arthroscopy. The surgical technique most commonly used for repairing a SLAP injury is arthroscopy. During arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.

Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery.

Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic

The Orthopaedic physicians at Peninsula Bone & Joint Clinic provide comprehensive services to all members of the family.
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