Superior Labrum Anterior & Posterior (SLAP) Repair

Superior Labrum Anterior & Posterior (SLAP) Repair

If you feel pain when you attempt to lift your hand over your head, or you experience a loss of strength in your arm, you may want to visit your doctor to see if you have a labrum or SLAP tear. OrthoBethesda has a team of doctors who specialize in treating various types of shoulder conditions for residents of Bethesda, MD. These conditions include SLAP repair.

SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. A SLAP tear may occur at the top, front or back of the place where the biceps tendon connects to the labrum.

The labrum is an integral part of the shoulder. It’s a ring of thick fibrous tissue, also called cartilage, that lines and pads the shoulder’s socket. The labrum provides stability in the joint, and the biceps tendon is attached to the top of this tissue.


What Causes a SLAP Tear?

A SLAP tear can happen due to injury or overuse. Athletes that play sports involving repeated overhead arm swinging, such as tennis, softball and baseball, are at a higher risk of developing this ailment. Other types of trauma caused by falling on a stretched arm, auto accidents or forcefully pulling your arm can lead to a labral tear as well. Also, fraying of the labrum due to age commonly occurs in patients who are over the age of 30.

What Is Torn Labrum Surgery?

Labrum repair surgery is only recommended when conservative management doesn’t relieve pain or improve the function of the shoulder. After a thorough diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to improve the strength of the rotator cuff and correct the mechanics of the shoulder.

Your orthopedic doctor may recommend surgery if pain symptoms persist. A SLAP repair is usually an arthroscopic surgical procedure that uses a small camera attached to a surgical instrument. During the operation, the surgeon removes some of the damaged tissue on the labrum. Then, they suture the labrum to an anchor set on the shoulder joint’s bone. Some procedures may involve a biceps tenodesis to remove the biceps tendon attached to the damaged labrum. Then, the biceps tendon is attached at a lower position on the humerus.

What to Expect After SLAP Tear Surgery?

Here’s what to expect after you complete the surgery in the hospital:

  • Sealing the incisions up with sutures, and placing a dressing on the shoulder.
  • Your arm will stay in a sling to prevent it from being immobilized.

When you get home after surgery:

  • Keep your brace or sling on at all times, except when you’re bathing. You may have to wear your sling for up to four weeks.
  • Keep your incision bandages dry and replace them according to the doctor’s instructions.
  • Take pain-relieving medication as prescribed.
  • Abstain from driving until your doctor decides that you can do so.

Shoulder Labrum Surgery Success Rate

The success rate for shoulder labrum surgery is high. More than 90% of those who go through this operation can return to normal activities without any complications or need for revision surgery.

What to Expect During SLAP Tear Recovery?

During your recovery, you’ll see a physical therapist who will give you exercises to do. You’ll need to begin range-of-motion exercises immediately after surgery. After removing your sling, you’ll do exercises that increase the strength and flexibility of the shoulder joint.

Further Reading

The Ultimate Guide For Shoulder Recovery Surgery

Best Physical Therapy Methods for Treating Shoulder Pain and Injuries


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Contact OrthoBethesda to Discover if You Need Shoulder Labrum Surgery

To book an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon at OrthoBethesda, please contact us by giving us a call at
(301) 530-1010. Our team of doctors has specialized skills in treating shoulder conditions. Plus, we use the most effective tools to help you enjoy full pain relief and return to your normal activities.