Some 25% of adults deal with shoulder pain thanks to acute injuries that happen suddenly or overuse injuries that happen gradually. Superior labrum anterior to posterior (SLAP) tears account for 4%-8% of all shoulder injuries.
Also known as labrum tears, SLAP tears involve torn cartilage in the inner part of your shoulder joint. As you can imagine, such tears are far from comfortable. Thankfully, appropriate treatment can bring lasting relief.
Board-certified orthopedic sports medicine surgeon Dr. Stephen Fisher and the team at our offices in Cumming and Buford, Georgia, provide effective orthopedic treatment for shoulder injuries, including SLAP tears.
Here’s a closer look at this condition, including common symptoms and treatments.
What causes a SLAP tear?
Your labrum plays an important role in your shoulder. It cushions the top part of your upper arm bone and helps keep it in position in the shoulder socket. The labrum also connects your shoulder blade with one of your bicep tendons.
A SLAP tear damages the labrum due to an acute injury, such as a car accident or fall, or from overuse of your shoulder. You can also develop age-related SLAP tears beginning around age 40 due to the labrum wearing out over time.
Common SLAP tear symptoms
Slap tears affect people differently, but most of those with the condition experience pain and mobility changes.
The most common symptoms include:
- Decreased range of motion
- Decreased shoulder strength
- Feeling like your shoulder might pop out of joint
- Grinding, locking, or popping sensations in your shoulder
- Pain with movement or certain shoulder positions
- Pain while lifting objects overhead
If your SLAP tear symptoms persist without treatment, you can develop chronic pain and more serious mobility challenges. Regardless, getting a proper assessment is essential, given that other shoulder conditions cause similar symptoms.
Treatment for SLAP tears
Once you’re diagnosed with a SLAP injury, our team recommends a treatment plan. Depending on factors like the severity of your symptoms and your overall health, we may suggest anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy aimed at shoulder strength and flexibility.
Your provider guides you through special exercises, including those to continue at home, typically for 3-6 months.
Surgery for SLAP tears is usually reserved for severe cases. You may be a candidate if you’re already experiencing chronic pain or disability from the condition or if nonsurgical treatment hasn’t sufficed.
To learn more about SLAP tears or get started with the treatment you need, call one of our convenient locations or book an appointment through our website today.