SLAP Tears


The labrum is a ring of tissue that helps hold the ball of the shoulder in the socket. People who participate in repetitive overhead sports, such as throwing athletes or weightlifters, can experience labrum tears as a result of repeated shoulder motion or an incident where the shoulder came out of place.

Symptoms of a tear include:

  • Pain when lifting and lowering your arm or with specific movements
  • Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm
  • A sensation of locking, popping, catching, or grinding
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder


To diagnose a labral tear, the doctor will do a physical examination. X-rays are often used to rule out bone abnormality. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be required to further evaluate the soft tissue of the shoulder.

Treatment Options

In planning your treatment, your doctor will consider your age, activity level, general health, and the type of tear you have. Your doctor may recommend management of labrum tears with physical therapy and other nonsurgical treatments first.

There are several different types of SLAP tears. Your surgeon will determine how best to treat your labrum injury once he or she sees it fully during arthroscopic surgery. This may require simply removing the torn part of the labrum or reattaching the torn part using sutures.

Physical Therapy

Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you regain strength and to restore range of motion either before or after surgery.