The labrum is a cartilage bumper that surrounds the shoulder socket (glenoid). A SLAP (Superior Labrum Anteroposterior) tear is a tear of the labrum at its upper edge. This often occurs from falling on a straight arm or from forceful contraction of the biceps muscle.


Symptoms of a SLAP tear include pain with throwing or overhead activity and pain, popping or catching with shoulder movement.

Evaluation & Treatment

Evaluation begins with a history of the injury, physical examination including special maneuvers, and X-rays to rule out other injuries. An MRI is helpful to distinguish a tear of the labrum and its extent.

Activity level and tear size dictate treatment. Labral tissue does not heal without surgical treatment, though conservative management including rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy can reduce symptoms. Surgical treatment is considered in athletes, laborers, and those who perform overhead activities. Surgery is done as an outpatient arthroscopic procedure and aims to repair the labrum. After surgery a sling is worn for 4-6 weeks and physical therapy is begun. Generally return to full activity occurs around 4-6 months.