About the Superior Labral Tear
Many people in the Orthopaedic community are talking about the "SLAP tear." The SLAP tear usually occurs in people who do extensive overhead activities, like baseball pitchers. Prior to the 1980's, the SLAP tear was barely identifiable. Over the past 30 years we have made tremendous advances in SLAP repairs.
Symptoms include shoulder pain with overhead activity, pain in the front of the shoulder, pain with reaching above your head, pain with reaching backwards
What is a SLAP tear?
A SLAP tear is a tear of the cartilage (labrum) surrounding the bony glenoid. The tear occurs because one part of the biceps tendon originates (starts) at the top of the glenoid (shoulder socket) from the labrum. With repetitive pulling of the biceps tendon, the labrum may "peel off" the top of the glenoid bone and cause pain.
Continued pain is usually caused because the biceps tendon continues to pull on the torn superior labrum (see image) and therefore the superior labrum is never able to seat properly and heal.
Normal Anatomy vs SLAP tear
Types of Tear
There are multiple variants of SLAP (superior labral anterior to posterior) tear. Image A shows fraying of the labrum consistent with a Type 1 tear. Image B shows a Type 2 tear, which is the one most commonly seen. Image C shows a Type 3 tear where there is a bucket handle tear of the superior labrum. Image D shows a tear of the superior labrum AND the biceps.
Depending on the repair and tissue quality, most people report being back to 100% around 4-6 months after surgery. The rehabilitation process is long, starting with simple motion and progressing to strengthening activities. Most patients start physical therapy around 4-6 weeks after surgery. Outcomes are extremely good, with success rates greater than 95%!