The most mobile joint in the human body, the shoulder often finds itself subject to injury. Common shoulder injuries include arthritis of the shoulder, cartilage damage, tendon, and ligament tears. A SLAP tear means that a tear of the Superior Labrum Anteriorly Posteriorly has occurred. A SLAP tear occurs at the junction of the biceps tendon and labrum.
Common causes and symptoms of SLAP tears
SLAP tears typically arise from overuse injuries or trauma to the shoulder. Many athletes who participate in sports with repetitive throwing or overhead motion or individuals in labor intensive careers that involve repetitive shoulder motion may develop a SLAP tear over time. Motor vehicle accidents, falling, or any trauma to the shoulder joint may also cause a SLAP tear.
All patients process pain differently but the most commonly reported symptoms include:
- Feeling a catching, popping, or locking sensation in the shoulder with movement
- Pain or swelling in the shoulder region
- Loss of strength in the affected shoulder
- Feeling instability within the shoulder joint
Treating a SLAP tear
To treat a slap tear, physicians typically start with attempting conservative treatment. For many patients, conservative treatment works to relieve patients of their symptoms. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can decrease the swelling and inflammation of the shoulder area and help patients regain function and mobility of the affected shoulder. Following conservative treatment surgeons May recommend a physical therapy regimen to strengthen the surrounding muscles and avoid further injury.
If conservative treatment does not help or the effective individual plays sports or has a career which requires constant use of the shoulder, Shoulder surgeons resort to surgical intervention to repair the slap tear. Surgeons typically repair slap tears arthroscopically. During the procedure to repair a slap tear, an anesthesiologist places the patient under general anesthesia. With a patient under general anesthesia, the patient remains asleep throughout the duration of the surgery. Using an arthroscopic approach, the shoulder surgeon creates multiple small portals into the patient’s shoulder. The surgeon uses one portal to house the camera that allows them to view the inside of the joint or affected area of the shoulder. The surgeon uses the other portals interchangeably to repair the slap tear using tools. To repair the slap tear, the surgeon may debride the torn aspect of the labrum and remove any damaged tissue. To repair the labrum, the surgeon sutures the labrum to the bone using anchors. The anchors never get removed but typically do not bother the patient.