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What Is a SLAP Tear?

One of the most complex joints in the body, the shoulder is held together by a sophisticated network of tendons, ligaments and soft tissue. The labrum is an important piece of cartilage within this network that assists in cushioning the shoulder joint and allowing for full range of motion. When this piece of cartilage is torn, it is known as A Superior Labral Anterior Posterior lesion, or a SLAP tear. A torn labrum in the shoulder can be painful and possibly limit movement in the shoulder, particularly overhead motions such as pitching.

doctor examining patient

SLAP Tear Causes and Risk Factors

There are three underlying SLAP tear causes and risk factors:

  • Chronic Injury: Most common in athletes. It is caused by repetitive overhead motions of the shoulder- particularly seen in sports like baseball, softball, swimming, tennis, football and weightlifting.
  • Acute Injury: This injury happens more sudden from things like falling on an extended arm, or a pulling or twisting of the arm when it is overhead.
  • Degeneration: Over time, general wear and tear of the labrum is common, especially in those over 40.

Symptoms of a SLAP Tear

Typically the first sign is a deep shoulder pain accompanied by a decrease in the range of motion. Other symptoms may include:

  • Decline in sports performance
  • A locking, popping, or clicking sound in the joint
  • A feeling of weakness in the shoulder
  • Difficulty raising the arm overhead

When Surgery Is Necessary

When experiencing chronic shoulder pain, or have just sustained a shoulder-related injury, you should contact Dr. Madsen for a diagnosis and treatment. Early diagnosis of a SLAP tear can help speed up recovery time and prevent loss of strength and motion, so you can get back to doing what you love.

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