The Inner Shoulder Joint

Shoulder pain is common in many adults due to an injury or overuse. A SLAP tear is a labrum tear and stands for superior labrum, anterior to posterior tear. A SLAP tear is when the labrum or cartilage is torn and treatment is required based on the tear severity. If not treated, the shoulder condition will worsen and reduce the ability to use the shoulder.

Grading of SLAP tear

There are 4 types of SLAP tears depending on the level of tear. Type 1 tear, commonly seen in middle-aged and older adults, has secured biceps tendon, but the labrum is frayed. Type 2 tear is the most common type, with frayed labrum and biceps tendon detached. Type 3 is when the affected labrum is caught inside the shoulder joint. In type 4, the labrum tears the biceps tendon.

Treatment of a SLAP tear

Managing a shoulder injury depends on the severity of symptoms and grading of the injury. A mild SLAP tear can be healed with conservative treatments such as rest, ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy. Shoulder surgery is for severe cases or if previous non-surgical treatments failed to manage the symptoms.

Surgical options for a shoulder injury

Deciding on the type of surgery required depends on factors like the patient’s age and type of SLAP tear. The most common type of surgery is SLAP repair which is performed arthroscopically. Biceps tenotomy is another kind of surgery where the biceps tendon is released from the shoulder labrum. Biceps tenodesis releases the tendon from the labrum and reintroduces the tendon at a lower level. The healthcare specialist will make the type of surgery required.

What is the outcome of surgery like?

The success of shoulder surgery varies for each person. The results show that surgery is more successful for patients under 40 years old. Older patients are more likely to benefit from biceps tenotomy or tenodesis.

The length of recovery time

Healing from a SLAP tear takes quite some time and requires a lot of patience. SLAP tears managed without surgery take about 3-4 months to recover completely. Surgery performed on SLAP tears take longer to recuperate, up to 1 year. Every patient heals at a different pace and healing time will vary.

Getting back to normal

Visit the doctor immediately the moment one has injured the shoulder. Delaying treatment will lead to more serious consequences. A mild SLAP tear can be managed with non-surgical options however, severe SLAP tears are treated with surgery. Speak to a specialist about available treatment options and the outlook for each treatment.