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SLAP tears

SUPERIOR LABRAL TEAR FROM ANTERIOR TO POSTERIOR (SLAP)

Our premium shoulder unit offers athletes a range of effective treatments for SLAP tears

About

A superior labral tear from anterior to posterior (SLAP) tear is when the ring of cartilage (labrum) surrounding the socket of the shoulder joint (glenoid) becomes torn. The labrum keeps your shoulder bone in place and causes deep shoulder pain when damaged. SLAP tears are most often seen in younger people who play sports.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of SLAP tears icon plus

    SLAP tears can be caused by repetitive motion such as sport, a nasty fall or wear and tear. People with SLAP tears experience deep shoulder pain which becomes worse with certain movements, such as throwing. Pain is usually felt at the back of the shoulder, but could be felt at the front if the tear includes the biceps tendon. Other symptoms include:

    • pain when moving or staying in certain positions
    • difficulty reaching items and unable to throw overhead
    • discomfort when lifting items, particularly overhead
    • clicking or grinding in the shoulder
    • shoulder feels like it may come out the socket
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and help make a diagnosis. They may ask you about sporting activities, whether you've had a recent blow to the shoulder or if you do any repetitive movements which could cause wear-and-tear. They'll also try and find the painful area. If they suspect a SLAP tear, they may order an MRI scan.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Minor SLAP tears can be treated with anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen and physiotherapy. Activity modification or changes to sporting technique may help. More resistant tears can be treated with arthroscopic surgery (keyhole surgery). Here, a camera is inserted into the shoulder joint so that the surgeon can see it on a screen. The labrum is then tidied and/or reattached to the bone using suture anchors.
Consultant in theatres

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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