Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior (SLAP) Lesion Tear

The labrum is a fibrous bumper that helps to stabilize the shoulder joint. It provides an attachment site for a variety of other shoulder structures including the capsule, ligaments and biceps tendon. When the superior labrum is detached or torn at the site of the biceps tendon insertion, it is termed a superior labrum anterior to posterior tear (SLAP). A variety of injuries may cause damage to the superior part of the labrum where the biceps tendon inserts. The most common type of injuries are repetitive over arm motion such as throwing a ball, falling on an outstretched arm or lifting a heavy object.


Overhead athletes or patients involved in repetitive overhead work can damage the superior labrum. This often generates a deep or posterior pain in the shoulder joint accompanied by a clicking, catching or popping sensation. There may be weakness with overhead activity. The throwing athlete often notices diminished velocity and control with throwing a ball. A thorough evaluation by your sports medicine physician is most appropriate to confirm this diagnosis. Plain x-rays may be obtained in order to rule out any type of bony damage. An MRI may also be obtained in order to determine the degree of superior labral injury as well as the existence of any injury in the adjacent capsule, ligaments or biceps tendon. 


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