If you are experiencing a medical emergency please dial 911 immediately
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.
SLAP 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 SLAP injury.
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 overhead throwing.
Many people with SLAP tears also have other shoulder injuries, such as a tear in the rotator cuff.
Symptoms of a SLAP tear may include:
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 tear include:
The first step in treatment is to see whether pain medicine and rehabilitation (rehab) can take care of the problem.
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 used NSAIDs.
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.
The 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 Orthopaedic Surgeons.
- 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.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery|
|Last Revised||July 2, 2013|
Last Revised: July 2, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
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