A superior labral anterior to posterior (SLAP) tear is an injury that occurs at the point where the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum, a strong rim of cartilage that deepens and stabilizes the shoulder socket. Often associated with overuse, SLAP tears are common among individuals who perform repetitive overhead arm movements, such as tennis players, baseball pitchers, weightlifters, and painters. This type of injury can also result from trauma, such as a fall onto an outstretched hand, or age-related degenerative changes in the labrum that cause it to gradually break down, fray, and ultimately tear.
SLAP Tear Symptoms
In addition to a deep ache within the shoulder, a SLAP tear may produce:
- Pain that intensifies with overhead arm movements
- Reduced strength and range of motion in the affected shoulder and arm
- A catching, locking, or grinding sensation (crepitus) in the shoulder
- A loss of throwing velocity or control
- A sensation of instability in the shoulder, as if the end of the upper arm bone is about to “pop out” of its socket
SLAP Tear Treatment Options
Many SLAP tears can be treated conservatively. For a mild to moderate tear, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and ice applications can be effective for reducing painful swelling. Then, a physical therapy program can be started with a goal to strengthen the muscles that support the shoulder, which in turn can enhance the function and range of motion of the joint.
If SLAP tear symptoms persist or worsen despite nonsurgical treatment, a surgical repair may be considered. For instance, if appropriate, a surgeon may reattach or remove the damaged section of the labrum or create a more secure attachment site for the biceps tendon.
If you have a possible SLAP tear, you can consult with Christopher C. Schmidt, MD, a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic shoulder surgeon who has a clinical practice and biomechanical research lab in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Schmidt offers the very latest treatment options for SLAP tears, including arthroscopic SLAP repair. Regarded among many of his peers as an expert among experts, Dr. Schmidt develops guidelines for orthopedic surgeons across the nation to help them understand current best practices for patient care, and he regularly receives complex case referrals from other shoulder surgeons.
Contact Dr. Schmidt’s office today at (877) 471-0935 to schedule your personal consultation.
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