SLAP Tear Treatment & Surgery

The labrum is the soft fibrous tissue rim that surrounds the shoulder socket to help stabilize the joint. A labrum gives support, holding the bones that make up the ball and socket joint in place. The ligaments that help hold the joint together attach to the labrum. It also provides cushioning to the joint.

Injuries fall, repetitive movements, overuse, or degeneration from diseases such as arthritis can injure the labrum, and cause it to tear. This is known as a SLAP tear. Individuals who perform a lot of overhead motions are prone to glenoid labral tears. People who do a lot of sudden twisting or pivoting movements are prone to acetabular labral tears. The treatment depends upon which kind of SLAP tear it is.

Dr. Vinay is an orthopedic surgeon with years of experience treating labrum tears. He will closely evaluate the patient to determine the best treatment plan for the patient’s particular labrum injury.

Non-Operative SLAP Tear Treatment

While the labrum has a rich blood supply that helps the healing process, most patients opt for physical therapy or surgical treatment to help with symptom relief. Physical therapy is helpful for certain cases, such as internal impingement. Physical therapy can also effectively change the throwing mechanism, strengthen the muscles that externally rotate the shoulder, and stretch the posterior capsule.

Surgical SLAP Tear Treatment

Some SLAP tears are so severe that the labrum needs to be reattached to the rim of the socket, and the best way to do this is with arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic treatment is the standard of practice for most labral injuries not associated with instability.

The arthroscope is a great advancement in the treatment of SLAP tears and other orthopedic conditions. Arthroscopic surgery allows Dr. Vinay to insert a tiny camera into the joint. With this camera, he can clearly view the injuries to the joint and labrum. If repairs are needed, the labrum can be reattached to the rim of the socket using either sutures or tacks.

Recovery From SLAP Surgery

Following the surgery, physical therapy is used to regain strength and joint range of motion. The specific approach one takes depends on where the tear was located, how severe it was, and how successful the surgical repair was. Because of the variability in the injury, it is difficult to predict how soon a patient can return to performing regular activities. However, most of the patients regain all the functions post labrum repair and get back to their normal activities with any or some limitations.