Your labrum is an important part of how your arm and shoulder move. If you’re not an orthopedic expert, you might not know exactly where your labrum is—or what it does.
Simply put, your labrum is a piece of cartilage that forms a “cup” for the humerus to rotate within. The labrum deepens your shoulder’s socket and protects it from dislocation and other injuries.
However, much like every other part of our shoulders, the labrum isn’t immune from overuse or injury. One of the more common labrum injuries is known as a SLAP tear. Depending on the type of SLAP tear and its severity, you may not feel its symptoms at all times. However, it’s important to know what they are so you can treat it as soon as possible. In this article, you’ll find information to help you identify and research proper SLAP tear treatment in Raleigh.
What is a SLAP Tear?
SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior. This refers to the top of your labrum from front to back.
A SLAP tear affects the tendon of the bicep as it connects to the labrum in your shoulder socket. Unlike other shoulder injuries, you may not feel a SLAP tear 24/7.
What are the Symptoms of a SLAP Tear?
Some common giveaways that you might be dealing with a SLAP tear include pain when you use your shoulder for overhead activities. Think of throwing a baseball or slapping your hand down on a tabletop.
In addition to a deep, aching pain and a limited range of mobility, some common SLAP tear symptoms include:
- Popping or clicking in the shoulder
- A catching or locking sensation
- Pain when lifting or reaching for things
- Decreased strength
It can be tricky to pinpoint SLAP tear symptoms, and not all tears will have the same severity of pain or limited range of motion. Oftentimes, a SLAP tear is accompanied by bicep tendonitis—which may increase the amount of pain felt in the upper arm.
What Causes a SLAP Tear?
Similar to other shoulder injuries, a SLAP tear may be caused by overusing the area or acute trauma as a result of an injury. Athletes are particularly susceptible to SLAP tears, especially during overhead sports like baseball, volleyball, and tennis.
In addition, the following activities may lead to SLAP tears:
- Falling onto an outstretched hand
- Falling onto your shoulder
- Repetitive overhead movements like throwing a ball or swimming
- Rapid over-the-shoulder movements
- Acute trauma from an accident
- Dislocating your shoulder
- Forceful arm pulling
How Do I Treat a SLAP Tear?
If you are concerned about a SLAP tear, please schedule an appointment with an orthopedic shoulder specialist as soon as possible!
Generally, a SLAP tear is treated with a nonsurgical plan of action. This includes regular physical therapy exercises to strengthen the labrum and shoulder muscles as well as supplementary anti-inflammatory medications to treat the pain.
Although I am a longtime orthopedic surgeon, I believe surgery should always be a last resort in a treatment plan. For SLAP tear treatments in Raleigh, I only recommend surgical options after a minimum of three months nonsurgical care. If those nonsurgical treatments do not improve the shoulder, then I consult with the patient to come up with the correct surgical treatment plan.
Please give me a call or set up a consultation online so we can get your labrum back to feeling 100%!