Let’s start with the basics: what is a SLAP tear, anyway?
A SLAP tear is a lesion or rupture of the labrum, which is the soft rim of cartilage lining the socket of the shoulder. The term “SLAP” itself stands for “Superior Labral Tear from Anterior to Posterior,” in reference to the area most commonly affected by this injury.
SLAP tears can be caused by sudden trauma, but they’re just as often a product of overuse. Here, our own Dr. Leon Popovitz breaks down everything you need to know about SLAP tears, from treatment to recovery.
DIAGNOSING SLAP TEARS
As with any orthopedic injury, the first step towards treating a SLAP tear is an accurate diagnosis. After evaluating the patient and noting any symptoms commonly associated with this injury — such as a deep, persistent pain, an inability to lift objects overhead, or a locking, popping, or grinding sensation — your orthopedic specialist will conduct an MRI to rule out similar injuries like dislocations or rotator cuff tears and assess the extent of the damage.
SURGERY AND TREATMENT
The most common course of treatment for SLAP tears is corrective arthroscopic surgery, a short, minimally invasive procedure that uses micro instruments to repair any damage to the labrum. As a less invasive procedure, it’s designed to shorten recovery times and reduce the risk of complications.
As debilitating as they can be, SLAP tears rarely result in a long-term loss of function. Indeed, with the proper treatment, most patients can expect a quick recovery. After the procedure, most patients will need to keep their arm in a sling for a week or so, but physical therapy can begin within a few days of surgery. Most patients can expect a complete recovery after three to four months of rest and rehabilitation.
If you’re interested in learning more about SLAP tears, our condition and treatment pages can provide you with a thorough overview. If you think you might have recently suffered a tear, don’t hesitate to contact us at New York Bone and Joint. Our team of specialists has decades of experience in diagnosing and treating SLAP tears and other common musculoskeletal injuries, providing all of our patients with comprehensive care at every stage of the process.