What is a SLAP Tear?

A SLAP tear involves damage to the cartilage rim (labrum) surrounding the shoulder socket. This injury occurs at the point where the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum. SLAP tears are often classified into four types based on the location and severity of the tear.

Causes of SLAP Tears

  • Traumatic Injury: SLAP tears can result from acute trauma, such as a fall onto an outstretched arm or a direct blow to the shoulder.
  • Overuse: Repetitive overhead motions, common in sports like baseball, tennis, and volleyball, can lead to gradual wear and tear on the shoulder joint, increasing the risk of SLAP tears.
  • Degenerative Changes: Age-related degeneration of the shoulder joint can weaken the labrum, making it more susceptible to tears.

Symptoms of SLAP Tears:

  • Shoulder Pain: Persistent pain, particularly when lifting objects overhead or during specific movements.
  • Decreased Range of Motion: Difficulty reaching behind the back or performing overhead activities.
  • Shoulder Instability: Feeling of looseness or instability in the shoulder joint.
  • Popping or Clicking Sensation: Audible or tactile sensations of popping, clicking, or catching in the shoulder.

Diagnosing a SLAP tear typically involves a thorough physical examination, imaging tests such as MRI or arthroscopy, and evaluation of the patient’s medical history and symptoms.

Treatment Options

Conservative Treatment:

  • Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve stability.
  • Activity modification to avoid aggravating movements or sports.

Surgical Intervention:

  • Arthroscopic repair: Minimally invasive surgery to reattach the torn labrum using sutures or anchors.
  • Biceps tenodesis: Procedure to reattach the biceps tendon to a different location on the shoulder socket.
  • Rehabilitation: Post-surgical rehabilitation to restore shoulder strength, flexibility, and function.


  • Proper Technique: Ensure proper technique and form during sports and repetitive activities to minimize stress on the shoulder joint.
  • Strength and Flexibility: Incorporate shoulder-strengthening and flexibility exercises into your fitness routine to maintain shoulder health.
  • Rest and Recovery: Allow adequate rest and recovery time between activities to prevent overuse injuries.
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Why Choose Premier Orthopaedic Associates of Southern New Jersey for SLAP Tears

SLAP tears can significantly impact shoulder function and quality of life. Early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and rehabilitation are essential for optimal recovery​. If you feel you have a SLAP tear, schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists.  

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