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Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior or SLAP tear is the injury that occurs in the labrum of the shoulder, which is a cartilage ring surrounding the socket of the shoulder joint. The top part of the labrum, where the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum, is damaged which can also lead to the bicep tendon’s injury.
Patients with torn SLAP can experience pain when the shoulder is moved, or lifting heavy objects and a dull throbbing pain while doing even simple chores. The patient might feel as if the shoulder is popping out of the joint, decreased range of motion and shoulder strength.

Classification of SLAP tears ;
The doctors will initially start treating the patient using non-surgical methods before opting for surgical methods.
Non-Surgical Treatment
This is the initial treatment opted for by most doctors and they include:



  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medication: like ibuprofen and naproxen will help in reducing pain and swelling.
  • Physical Therapy: includes specific exercises to restore movement and for shoulder strengthening. Strengthening of the shoulder muscles will help support the shoulder and relieve the pain and prevent further injury. This might last for 3 to 6 months with a qualified physical therapist.

Surgical Treatment
The doctor will recommend surgical treatment if non-surgical treatment proves ineffective in relieving pain. The SLAP tear is usually treated using Arthroscopy or keyhole surgery.

This surgical procedure involves in making tiny incisions to insert tiny camera called arthroscope to view the inside of the shoulder and the surgeon uses this camera to guide tiny specialized instruments to the damaged area and perform repairs.
There are different types of SLAP tears and different repair options are employed to repair the specific type of tear. The age of the patient, their activity level and other injuries are also considered as factors for the best repair option.

Post – Surgery
The repair has to be protected till the healing of the labrum is over. The patient will be prescribed a sling for keeping the arm still and restrict any movement and the time period is decided by the extent of the injury.
The doctor will start physical therapy once the initial pain and swelling subsides. This therapy will focus on flexibility and gentle stretches will improve the range of motion and prevent the shoulder’s stiffness. As the therapy progresses, the physical therapist will also include exercises to strengthen the shoulder’s muscles.


Authored by Dr Banarji B.H - Shoulder Surgeon, Bangalore

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Baby Das

Last one year I was suffering from acute shoulder pain on my left shoulder. I went to several doctors, but not diagnosed.

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