What is a SLAP Tear?

The word SLAP stands for “Superior Labral tear, from Anterior to Posterior”. The labrum is the rim of rubbery tissue that surrounds the shoulder socket. The biceps tendon attaches at the top of this rim. A SLAP tear refers to the damage that is done to the labrum and the anchor of the biceps tendon, often as a result of throwing injuries.


What causes a SLAP tear:

  • Fall or traumatic impact to the shoulder
  • Repetitive overhead activity (eg. sports related, throwing)
  • Degeneration over time, no specific injury


What are symptoms of a SLAP tear:

  • Pain with throwing/ overhead activities
  • Dull, throbbing shoulder ache
  • Loss of strength/ tiring out of the shoulder
  • Catching, clicking, popping


What we do at Acumen for a SLAP Tear:

  • A thorough history and evaluation exam is performed
  • An x-ray to make sure there are no bony abnormalities
  • An ultrasound may initially be performed to identify the type of damage.
  • An MRI, with injected dye (referred to as an arthrogram) is typically required to confirm the diagnosis.


Treatment Options:

  • Rest and activity modification can help to reduce the pain.
  • Physiotherapy can improve shoulder stability and strength of surrounding muscles.
  • Surgery to reattach the torn labrum/ biceps tendon. The procedure is a shoulder arthroscopy, where a camera is inserted into the joint to view the damage and guide the repair process. Sometimes, the biceps tendon may need to be released (tenotomy) or re-attached at another location (tenodesis).