5 Things You Should Know About A SLAP Tear

Shoulder SurgeonIf you are seeing a shoulder surgeon for an injury, he or she may have told you that you have a SLAP tear. You may have many questions about this diagnosis, but don’t be alarmed. Here is some basic information you should know about this particular problem:

What Is a SLAP tear?

You may know that your shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, formed of the humerus (upper arm), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collar bone). Around the socket that accepts the humerus is a band of tough tissue called the labrum. Various ligaments and tendons attach here. A SLAP tear, or Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior tear, occurs in this rim of tissue.

The Cause

Sudden trauma and overuse are two common causes of SLAP tears. Car accidents are one example of an event with enough force to tear the labrum, as well as falling on an arm that is outstretched. Shoulder dislocations may cause a SLAP tear. In cases of overuse, often the problem occurs in people over 40 and comes on gradually.


Evidence of a SLAP tear may be similar to that of a dislocation. The arm may feel like it is going to come out of the socket. You may hear popping, or feel a grinding sensation when trying to move the arm. Generally, you can tell that your shoulder strength is diminished.

Treatment Options

Your shoulder surgeon will run tests to see if the problem is indeed a SLAP tear. If it isn’t severe you may recover with rest, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. Otherwise, arthroscopic surgery will be used for repair followed by a course of rehabilitation.


While u can’t avoid the effects of natural aging, you may reduce your risk of SLAP tears by strengthening the shoulder’s structure, specifically the shoulder blade and rotator cuff areas. Work with a trainer or shoulder surgeon on specific stabilization exercises. Always warm up and stretch before activity.

SLAP tears can seriously impact your daily life. If you suspect you may have one, talk to a shoulder surgeon right away!

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