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Shoulder SLAP Tear Treatment

June 17, 2019

Shoulder problems can keep us from doing what we love. Sports can become difficult if not impossible, and simple tasks that involve reaching and lifting could result in pain. Thankfully our orthopedic specialists based in the greater Austin, TX area offer advacned shoulder surgery options to relieve pain and restore range of motion.

Our team would like to consider SLAP tears, which are a specific kind of shoulder injury affecting athletes, people who've been in bike or motorcycle accidents, and others. We'll note common causes and symptoms and then go over some of the treatment options available.

About SLAP Tears

Time for a brief anatomy lesson about the shoulder. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint similar to the hip but the socket is not as deep. The shallow socket of the shoulder blade is called the glenoid. Around the gelnoid is a rim of cartilage known as the labrum. The labrum helps deepen the shoulder socket and improves the strength and stability of the shoulder joint.

SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. A SLAP tear is a specific kind of labrum injury in which the rim of fibrous tissue tears in the front and back portion where the bicep tendon is attached.

Common Causes of SLAP Tears

Potential causes of SLAP tears include:

  • Falling onto an outstretched arm
  • Catching a heavy object
  • Repetitive overhead motions such as throwing
  • Shoulder dislocation

SLAP Tear Symptoms

The most common symptoms associated with SLAP tears include:

  • Sensations of locking, popping, or grinding in the shoulder
  • Discomfort when lifting objects over your head
  • Shoulder pain, especially in certain positions
  • Reduced strength in the shoulder
  • A feeling that your shoulder will pop out of place
  • Reduced range of motion in the shoulder

If you have suffered some sort of shoulder injury that matches the symptoms listed above, the Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin can help.

Non-Surgical SLAP Tear Treatments

When treating SLAP tear injuries, non-surgical approaches to treatment may be tried first. This may include:

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) - If the SLAP tear can heal on its own without surgery, doctors could prescribe NSAIDs to help reduce pain. Patients will be asked to avoid activities that can aggravate the injury in the meantime.
  • Physical Therapy - Working with a professional, certain exercises and stretches will be used to restore strength and mobility to your shoulder.

Shoulder Surgery for SLAP Tears

If non-surgical treatment for your SLAP tear is ineffective, or the initial injury is too serious to be addressed with non-invasive approaches, surgery will be recommended. This may involve the following:

  • SLAP Debridement - If torn tissue causes catching or other issues with shoulder movement, SLAP debridement is recommended. This will remove the torn tissue from he labrum. In some cases, this is sufficient to treat the problem.
  • SLAP Repair - SLAP repair involves fixing the actual tear in the labrum. Repairing the tear will typically involve the use of sutures.

During a consultation at Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin, we can determine the nature of your injury and which surgical option may be best for your needs. We'll be sure to go over side effects, risks, and the recovery process as part of this consultation.

Learn More About Orthopedic Surgery

For more information about treating SLAP tears, be sure to contact our skilled team of orthopedic surgeons. You can reach us by phone at (512) 476-2830. We look forward to discussing your treatment options with you in greater detail.