An Overview of Shoulder Labral and SLAP Tears
The labrum is a type of cartilage found in the shoulder that surrounds the socket (glenoid) and has two primary functions: 1) to deepen the socket so that the ball of the shoulder stays in place; and 2) the labrum acts as an attachment site for other structures, such as the biceps tendon or shoulder ligaments. When there is an injury to the shoulder, such as a dislocation, the labrum can be peeled off of the rim of the socket (glenoid).
Shoulder labral tears can occur for a variety of reasons and there is a number of ways that this injury can affect a patient. The most serious is when the labrum is torn completely away from the bone. This acute, traumatic injury is often associated with a dislocation or subluxation of the shoulder. Another labrum injury is associated with a tear within the substance of the labrum itself. When this degenerative condition occurs, the labrum is left with an unsmooth, rough edge. This condition is usually found in older patients. A tear can also occur in the area where the biceps tendon attaches to the upper end of the socket (SLAP tear). Austin, Round Rock, and Cedar Park, Texas communities orthopedic shoulder specialist, Dr. Jeff Padalecki, has extensive experience and success in helping patients with labral and SLAP tears.
A SLAP Tear (Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior) refers to a specific type of labral tear in the shoulder, which is located at the top of the shoulder socket (glenoid) and involves the attachment site of the biceps tendon. Acute trauma and overuse are often the causes of this specific type of labrum injury.
What are the Symptoms of Labral and SLAP Tears?
A SLAP tear is often accompanied by pain deep in the shoulder, stiffness, a popping or clicking sensation or feeling of instability. Decreased range of motion or strength can also be present.
How are Labral and SLAP Tears Diagnosed?
Dr. Padalecki will conduct a thorough examination and perform a physical examination to help determine whether or not you have a SLAP tear. During the evaluation, Dr. Padalecki will determine if the tear is associated with any type of pre-existing instability to the shoulder or if it’s from a particular traumatic event. X-rays will rule out any fractures or bone-related issues. Typically, an MRI is most effective in diagnosing a tear.