Slap Tear

Drew Stein, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon & Sports Medicine Specialist located in Midtown West, New York, NY

A SLAP tear is an injury that affects the labrum, a type of cartilage lining the shoulder socket, as well as the biceps tendon that attaches to it. Drew Stein, MD, PLLC, is an experienced orthopedic surgeon and sports injury specialist who provides effective treatments for SLAP tears including physical therapies, regenerative medicine, and advanced surgical techniques, at his practice in the Midtown West area of New York City. Call today if you have shoulder pain or book an appointment using the online tool.

Slap Tear Q & A

What is a SLAP tear?

A SLAP tear involves the labrum, a ring of cartilage that lines the socket of your shoulder joint. The labrum helps to keep your upper arm bone secure in the socket of the shoulder joint and acts as an attachment point for the biceps tendon and several shoulder ligaments.

SLAP stands for superior labrum anterior and posterior, which describes the tissues involved in this type of injury. Superior means top, so the injury is to the top of the labrum, where the biceps tendon attaches. Anterior means front, and posterior means back, so the injury is affecting both the front and back of the attachment point.

What causes a SLAP tear?

Acute SLAP injuries are typically due to:

  • Being in a car accident
  • Falling onto your arm when it’s outstretched.
  • Pulling forcefully on your arm, like when attempting to catch a heavy object
  • Moving your arm rapidly or forcefully when it’s above the level of your shoulder
  • Dislocating your shoulder

SLAP tears are found in athletes who frequently raise their arms above their heads, such as weightlifters and basketball players. SLAP tears are also a problem that develops because of gradual wear and tear over the years.

What treatments are available for SLAP tears?

Treatments for SLAP tears may be possible using nonsurgical approaches. The primary nonsurgical treatment is physical therapy. Stretching the shoulder capsule and strengthening the muscles surrounding your shoulder can help reduce pain and prevent any worsening of the injury. You may need to undergo physical therapy for between three and six months for optimal results.

Dr. Stein also offers innovative regenerative medicine treatments, including platelet-rich plasma therapy and bone marrow aspirate stem cell injections to promote healing and new tissue growth.

Surgery for SLAP tears most often involves the use of arthroscopy, a minimally invasive technique in which Dr. Stein inserts a tube with a tiny camera on its end into a small incision he makes in your shoulder. Using the video images sent back by the camera, he can repair the SLAP tear using tiny instruments without needing to open up your shoulder with a large incision.

Once he can see the images of the affected tissues, Dr. Stein decides how to repair the damage. He may remove the torn section of the labrum or stitch the torn section back into place; he may also need to cut the biceps tendon where it attaches to the labrum.

SLAP tears can be painful and limit your strength and range of movement, so don’t delay in getting a diagnosis and the necessary treatment. Call Drew Stein, MD, PLLC, or book an appointment online.

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