Labral (SLAP) Tear

A SLAP (or labral) tear is an injury to the labrum, which is the strong fibrous tissue that surrounds the cavity within the shoulder. SLAP is shorthand for a Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior tear. A SLAP tear may also involve the biceps tendon, which is attached to the labrum.

What causes a Labral Tear (SLAP Tear)?

A SLAP tear may arise from injury from a single traumatic event such as a fall or while trying to lift a heavy object. A tear can also develop from the effect of repetitive overhead or throwing actions involved in work activities or sports such as baseball, tennis and cricket. SLAP tears may present with other issues such as cartilage or ligament damage following a shoulder dislocation.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

Patients may experience a range of symptoms and varying degrees of discomfort. These symptoms can include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Catching or clunking when moving the shoulder joint
  • Pain from pinching of the rotator cuff tendons with forward or sideways raising of the arm
  • Reduced range of motion and strength
  • Shoulder instability

How is it diagnosed?

Dr Soong Chua and the team will begin with your medical history and a physical examination to assess your pain and range of movement. You may then move onto imaging tests such as x-rays, ultrasound or an MRI scan.

What are the Treatment Options for a Labral Tear? (SLAP Tear)

Dr Soong Chua will consider a range of treatment options, including:

  • Rest and/or Activity modification
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen)
  • Strengthening exercises and physiotherapy– Strengthening the muscles that support your shoulder can relieve pain and help prevent further injury.
  • Surgical Repair – If non-invasive treatments provide insufficient relief, Dr Soong Chua may recommend arthroscopic surgery. For further information on SLAP repair surgery, refer to the SLAP Repair Surgery page

Other Conditions

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