The shoulder labrum is a thick ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket (glenoid) of the shoulder joint. It contributes to shoulder joint stability and has numerous tendons and ligaments attached to it.
A superior labrum anterior and posterior tear (SLAP Tear) is an injury to the shoulder labrum. The tear occurs with both the front and back of the attachment point and may also involve the bicep tendon.
Repetitive overhead activities like throwing, swimming or weightlifting can lead to a SLAP tear. A tear can also be the result of trauma.
Symptoms of a SLAP tear include pain, loss of shoulder strength, loss of motion, and a feeling of shoulder joint instability. Some of these symptoms are also associated with other shoulder injuries and conditions, so it’s important to see a shoulder specialist to identify and evaluate the cause.
Conservative Treatment for a SLAP Tear
In most cases, a shoulder doctor will initially recommend conservative treatment for a SLAP tear. Physical therapy may be used for 2 to 3 months in an effort to restore motion and strength to the shoulder. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may used to reduce swelling and discomfort.
Surgery (Slap Repair)
Surgery is typically done using an arthroscope. During a shoulder arthroscopy, a shoulder surgeon will make small incisions around the shoulder joint and insert an arthroscope (camera) to fully evaluate the injured area. Tiny surgical instruments are then inserted in an incision area. If the labrum tear is small, frayed edges may be trimmed. A severely torn labrum will require repair and is reattached using sutures and suture anchors.
Post-Operative SLAP Repair Care
After a SLAP repair, a patient will need to use a sling for the first few weeks to immobilize the shoulder joint. Ice packs and pain medications are used to reduce swelling and pain. A patient will need physical therapy to help them regain shoulder flexibility, range of motion and strength. Most patients can return to their normal activities within three to six months.
Schedule An Appointment At The CMD
If you are experiencing shoulder pain, swelling, or a loss of motion, schedule an appointment with one of orthopedic shoulder specialist. Our team of doctors use the most current and advanced diagnosis and treatment techniques.
The Center For Musculoskeletal Disorders has orthopedic clinics conveniently located in NYC and NJ. Call today for more information.