SLAP Tear

SLAP Tears

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. A ‘ball’ at the top of the upper arm bone (the humerus) fits neatly into a ‘socket’, called the glenoid, which is part of the shoulder blade (scapula). The term SLAP (superior –labrum anterior-posterior) lesion refers to an injury of the superior labrum of the shoulder. The labrum is a ring of fibrous cartilage surrounding the glenoid for stabilization of the shoulder joint. The biceps tendon attaches inside the shoulder joint at the superior labrum of the shoulder joint. The biceps tendon is a long cord-like structure which attaches the biceps muscle to the shoulder and helps to stabilize the joint.

The most common causes include falling on an outstretched arm, repetitive overhead actions such as throwing, and lifting a heavy object. Overhead and contact sports may put you at a greater risk of developing SLAP lesions.

The most common symptom is pain deep in the joint with rotational movements.

Diagnosis is made based on the symptoms and physical examination. A regular MRI scan may not show up a SLAP tear and therefore an MRI with a contrast dye injected into the shoulder is ordered.  This is called a MR arthrogram.

Dr. Patel may recommend anti- inflammatory medications to control pain along with physical therapy to strengthen the dynamic stabilizers of the shoulder. In athletes who want to continue their sports, arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder may be recommended. Depending on the severity of the lesion, SLAP lesions may simply require debridement or some may need to be repaired.  In a majority of cases, the biceps anchor is involved and the biceps has to be addressed to resolve the pain.  A SLAP repair can be done using arthroscopic techniques that require only two or three small incisions.