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SLAP Tears (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) are injuries to the superior part of the labrum in the shoulder, a ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint. The term ‘SLAP’ refers to a tear that occurs both in the front (anterior) and back (posterior) of this attachment point.

Causes and Risk Factors

SLAP tears are commonly caused by acute trauma, such as a fall onto an outstretched hand, a direct blow to the shoulder, a sudden pull, like when trying to lift a heavy object, or a rapid overhead movement. They are also seen in athletes, particularly those who engage in overhead sports like baseball, tennis, or weightlifting.


Symptoms of a SLAP tear include a sensation of locking, popping, catching, or grinding in the shoulder, pain with movement or when holding the shoulder in specific positions, and a decrease in shoulder strength or range of motion. Pain is often felt deep within the shoulder or can be vague.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing a SLAP tear usually involves a physical examination and imaging tests, such as an MRI or an arthrogram. Treatment depends on the severity of the tear and the patient’s activity level. Non-surgical treatment includes rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy focusing on strengthening and stabilizing the shoulder. If non-surgical treatments are ineffective, arthroscopic surgery to repair the tear may be recommended.

Recovery and Prevention

Recovery time varies depending on the treatment method. Post-surgery, rehabilitation is crucial for restoring function. Preventive measures include proper training and conditioning, especially for athletes involved in repetitive overhead activities.

SLAP tears are significant shoulder injuries that require appropriate treatment to prevent long-term shoulder problems. Early diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan are essential for a successful recovery and return to normal activities.