18 May 2020,

what is a slap tear

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint consisting of several different muscles, bones and tendons. Surrounding the shoulder socket is the labrum, a fibrous ring of cartilage that helps to stabilize the joint. Although this tissue is quite strong, it can be injured through repetitive shoulder movement or acute trauma. One of the most common labral injuries is called a SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) tear. What is a SLAP tear, and what are the treatment options for this shoulder injury? Read on for a detailed overview.

What Is a SLAP Tear of the Shoulder?

As the name suggests, a SLAP injury affects the anterior (front) part of the labrum as well as the posterior (back) part. The biceps tendon may also be affected by a SLAP tear, as this injury occurs at the point where the bicep attaches to the labrum. Common symptoms of a SLAP tear include decreased shoulder strength and range of motion, pain with movement and a popping/locking sensation.

There are many scenarios which can lead to a SLAP tear of the shoulder. An acute SLAP injury may occur due to:

  • – Forceful pulling, lifting or overhead movement
  • – Shoulder dislocation
  • – Falling onto an outstretched arm
  • – Car accidents


Aside from these acute trauma-related causes, a SLAP tear may also be the result of wear and tear over time. Patients over the age of 30 often develop fraying or tearing in the labrum as part of the normal aging process. Further, individuals with an occupation or hobby that requires repetitive overhead movement are at a heightened risk for labral injuries.

How Is a SLAP Tear Treated?

Now that you know the answer to “what is a SLAP tear?” and how this injury might occur, you might be curious to learn about treatment options. Regardless of cause, SLAP tears are typically treated using nonsurgical methods to start. First-line treatments might include:

  • – Rest – For minor tears, taking a break from activities can promote healing.
  • – NSAIDs – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be highly effective in reducing swelling and pain in the shoulder joint.
  • – Physical therapy – Exercises designed to improve range of motion and flexibility may also help to treat the symptoms of a SLAP tear. 


In the event that a patient fails to get relief from these methods, he or she may consider arthroscopic labral repair. This minimally invasive treatment allows the orthopedic surgeon to reattach the torn tissues without cutting through the shoulder muscles.

Find Relief with Shoulder Treatment from Dr. Soffer

Offering cutting-edge shoulder treatment for patients in and around Reading, PA, Dr. Stephen Soffer specializes in nonsurgical options for SLAP tears as well as arthroscopic labral repair. If you are living with lingering shoulder pain, call our office at 610-375-4949 to schedule an in-person or telemedicine appointment. As always, we are here to offer the treatment you need to get back to doing what you love.

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