Orthopedic Surgeon near Seattle, WA

What’s the Difference Between a Labral and SLAP Tear?

shoulder-labral-fig1The labrum is a rim of specialized cartilage tissue surrounding the outer edge of the socket of the shoulder joint. The labrum helps stabilize the joint to keep the ball inside the socket, and also deepens the socket, and makes it more concave. 

The labrum can be torn anywhere around the rim, from an injury or shoulder dislocation. It can also tear because of repetitive wear and tear, such as overuse that can occur in throwing athletes. It can also tear as a result of degenerative disease such as arthritis.

The biceps tendon passes from the arm into the shoulder joint where it attaches to the labrum. SLAP tears stand for Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior—technical terms describing the front to back location of this tear. SLAP tears can be a source of shoulder pain, commonly in overhead throwing athletes or weightlifters.

Labral and SLAP Tear Treatment in Kirkland

Typical nonsurgical treatment for labral tears involves activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. An arthroscopic repair may be performed by Dr. Fuchs if the nonsurgical treatments fail. The repair of the labrum can usually lead to pain relief and restoration of strength and function for patients residing in the Seattle metro area.