A SLAP tear is a specific kind of injury to your shoulder.
To help make your shoulder more stable there is a ring of firm tissue called the labrum around your shoulder socket. The labrum (say “LAY-brum”) helps keep your arm bone in the shoulder socket.
SLAP stands for “superior labrum, anterior to posterior”â€”in other words, “the top part of the labrum, from the front to the back.” It refers to the part of the labrum that is injured, or torn, in a SLAP injury.
A SLAP tear can be hard to identify because there are so many other things that can cause shoulder pain, and SLAP tears are not common. Ways to diagnose a SLAP tear include:
- A series of tests in which your doctor moves your shoulder joint around to see which movements are causing your pain.
- MRI. A special dye is injected into your shoulder before you have an MRI scan. When a dye is used, the test is called an MRI arthrogram.
- Arthroscopic surgery. This is the only sure way to know whether you have a SLAP tear. Your doctor will make small cuts, called incisions, in your shoulder. Then he or she can look at the inside of your joint by inserting a tiny camera attached to a thin tube. The doctor may be able to repair the tear at the same time.
The first step in treatment is to see whether pain medicine and rehabilitation (rehab) can take care of the problem.
NSAIDs, which are anti-inflammatory medicines, may help the pain. NSAIDs are available over the counter or by prescription. Ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) and naproxen (such as Aleve) are commonly used NSAIDs.
You can also try using heat or ice on your shoulder for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. If your shoulder is very painful, try using a sling for a few days to support your arm.
Rehab may include exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and to gently stretch the back of the shoulder.