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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Shoulder SLAP Tear
A SLAP tear is a specific
kind of injury to your shoulder.
To help make your shoulder more
stable, there is a ring of firm tissue, called the
labrum, around your shoulder socket. The labrum (say
"LAY-brum") helps keep your arm bone in the shoulder socket.
stands for "superior labrum, anterior to posterior"—in other words, "the top
part of the labrum, from the front to the back." It refers to the part of the
labrum that is injured, or torn, in a
The labrum frays or tears
because of an injury. You may get a SLAP tear if you:
This injury was first identified in the 1980s in
athletes, like baseball players, whose sport requires them to do a lot of
Many people with SLAP tears
also have other shoulder injuries, such as a tear in the
Symptoms of a SLAP tear may
A SLAP tear can be
hard to identify, because there are so many other things that can cause
shoulder pain and because SLAP tears are not common. Ways to diagnose a SLAP
The first step in treatment is
to see whether pain medicine and rehabilitation (rehab) can take care of the
NSAIDs, which are anti-inflammatory
medicines, may help the pain. NSAIDs are available
over the counter or by prescription. Ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) and naproxen (such as Aleve) are commonly
You can also try using heat or ice on your shoulder for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. If your shoulder is very painful, try using a sling for a few days to support your arm.
Rehab may include exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and to gently stretch the back of the shoulder. Your doctor or therapist will teach you to do the exercises and avoid pain, then the exercise program may be done at home.
For many people, surgery is the only
thing that helps. With
arthroscopic surgery, the doctor can get a close look
at the injury and also do some repairs at the same time.
shoulder is a complex joint, and there are a number of other problems that can
cause pain there, such as:
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American
Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Superior anterior-to-posterior lesions. In JF Sarwark, ed., Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 4th ed., pp. 328–332. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of
Beasley Vidal LS, et al. (2007). Shoulder injuries. In
PJ McMahon, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Sports Medicine, pp. 118–145. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Maffett MW, Lowe WR (2010). Rotator cuff. In JC DeLee et al., eds., DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice, 3rd ed., vol. 1, pp. 1016–1032. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
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