Orthopedic Treatment For SLAP Tears

by Craig W. Goodhart, MD 22. September 2014 11:16

Just like the hip, the shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint which is extremely shallow and unstable. Thus, to help it to be more stable, the socket is surrounded with a ring of strong tissues, known as labrum. A SLAP tear can be defined as an injury to the labrum of the shoulder.

The word SLAP stands for superior labrum from anterior to posterior). SLAP tear take place in the region where the bicep tendons attach to the labrum.


  • Fall with a stretched out arm
  • Fall against the shoulder
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • Recurrent actions that involve overhead movements such as throwing
  • Lifting heavy weights
  • Forceful or rapid movement of the arm
  • Dislocated shoulder


  • A feeling of grinding, catching, popping and locking of the shoulder
  • Pain while moving the shoulder or holding in certain positions
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Pain on lifting something, particularly above the head
  • A sensation that shoulder has come out of the joint
  • Instability or weakness in the shoulder


There are many tests that can be done to diagnose the presence of SLAP tears. However, the condition is difficult to be detected as it is not a common condition and there are almost uncountable causes of shoulder pain. Thus, the best way to diagnose MRI is by through a contrast MRI, i.e., by injecting a special dye into the shoulder before performing the test.


The treatment options for a SLAP tear may include:

Non-surgical treatment

  • Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines may be prescribed by the orthopedic doctor to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises must be done to brace the shoulder and restore it normal movement. Physical therapy must be needed for anywhere between three to six months and should be done under the guidance of a professional.

Surgical treatment

  • Debridement: When the SLAP tear is damaged, the orthopedic surgeon may trim away the torn labrum to smoothen the edge. This procedure is effective only if the tear is minor.
  • Biceps Tenodesis: This procedure involves cutting down the biceps tendon from the point where it is joined with labrum. This reduces the pressure on the SLAP regions and the patient is relieved of the pain.
  • SLAP Repair: This is an arthroscopic technique that involves securing the torn labrum to the socket of the shoulder. This is the best option for the patients who want to be muscularly active.

For complete diagnosis and treatment of SLAP tears, visit Dr. Goodhart in Carrollton, TX. To schedule an appointment, please call at (972) 899 - 4679.

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