The shoulder is a ball-and-socket type joint, which is known as the gleno-humeral joint. This is made up of your humerus, shoulder blade and collarbone. Your upper arm bone fits into a rounded socket in the shoulder blade, and this socket is the called the glenoid. The labrum surrounds the outside edge of the glenoid, which is a strong, fibrous tissue. The labrum helps stabilizes the shoulder joint and serves as an attachment point for many other ligaments in the shoulder.
SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior, and a SLAP
injury is when the top (superior) part of the labrum is injured. At this top part, the biceps tendon attaches at the labrum and can also be injured in the tear. A SLAP tear can occur both in the front and the back of this attachment point. If this tear is bad enough, you may need to undergo a SLAP Repair. This can be done arthroscopically, depending on the type of tear, it can either be smoothed off or repaired back down onto the bone.
A SLAP injury can be caused by a number of reasons. Some reasons could be falling on an outstretched arm, a strong pull of the arm, shoulder dislocation, or a motor vehicle accident. Athletes that participate in overhead sports that use a repetitive overhead motion could also experience this type of tear. Many of these SLAP tears can also be a cause of wearing down the labrum slowly over time.
Some symptoms of this include the shoulder locking/popping, grinding, pain when holding the shoulder in a specific position, pain when lifting heavy objects overhead, a decrease in shoulder strength, or a decreased range of motion.
A SLAP Repair can be done in an outpatient environment, meaning the patient can go home the same day as surgery. The patient will need to wear a sling anywhere from two to four weeks, and physical therapy often starts 7-10 days after surgery. This, at first, will include a lot of stretching for flexibility and improving range of motion, and then around four to six weeks a strengthening program will be implemented to regain full strength. A full recovery is expected around six months, however most patients are back to many of their activities three months after surgery.