A SLAP tear is a shoulder injury. It is an acronym for “superior labral tear from anterior to posterior” and occurs when the top of the labrum — the ring of cartilage that helps to stabilize the ball and socket joint that makes up the shoulder — is damaged. Because the tendon that’s attached to the biceps muscle is also found at the top of the labrum, this tendon can also be damaged.
What Causes This Tear?
SLAP tears can be caused when the shoulder is moved repetitively as in overhead strokes in a racquet sport or weightlifting. They can also be caused by a car accident; when the person falls on their outstretched arm; when the arm is wrenched or if the shoulder is dislocated. In many cases, SLAP tears are the result of the wear and tear of aging.
People who have a SLAP tear may hear a popping or grinding sound from their shoulder. They may feel like it’s actually going to pop out of its socket. The shoulder may hurt when the patient moves their shoulder or holds it in a certain way. It also hurts to lift objects. People with SLAP tears find that their shoulder isn’t as strong as it used to be.
Remedies for SLAP Tears
Sometimes SLAP tears can be helped by non-surgical therapies. The doctor can prescribe drugs such as NSAIDs to reduce inflammation, and the patient can work with a physical therapist to return range of motion and strength to their shoulder.
SLAP tears usually don’t heal on their own, and if the pain continues, surgery is recommended. In arthroscopic surgery, the doctor makes small incisions around the shoulder to insert miniaturized surgical tools and a tiny camera connected to a monitor. The doctor uses the monitor as a guide to repairing the surgery. In one technique, the doctor simply cuts away the damaged part of the labrum or sutures it back together. Sometimes, the biceps tendon needs to be cut to repair the injury.
Recovery from SLAP Surgery
The patient will use a sling anywhere from two weeks to a month after their SLAP operation. When the shoulder has healed somewhat, the doctor recommends a physical therapy. The exercises are gentle at first and grow more intense as the weeks go on. In many cases, athletes can go back to their favorite sport about three or four months after their operation, and even people who are not athletes report that the surgery has improved the strength and range of motion of their shoulder.
Contact Us for More Information on SLAP Tear Remedies
If you’ve hurt your shoulder and fear that you’ve had a SLAP tear, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Plymouth Bay Orthopedic Associates, Inc in Plymouth, Duxbury and Sandwich, MA. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!