(SLAP Lesion)

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 Definition A superior labral tear is an injury to the cartilage that covers the top part of the shoulder socket. (Glenoid)
Details The labrum is a lip like piece of cartilage that deepens the socket (Glenoid) of the shouldere joint. It functions to help stabilize the shoulder. The labrum is divided into superior, inferior, anterior and posterior parts. The anterior-inferior portion of the labrum can be torn when the shoulder dislocates forwardly. A superior labral tear is also sometimes known as a "SLAP Lesion".
Causes Superior labral tears can occur when a patient falls onto an outstretched hand or shoulder. They may also occur in association with rotator cuff tendonitis and tears. Oftentimes, however, the exact cause of the superior labral tear is not known.
Diagnosis A superior labral tear is diagnosed when a patient complains of clicking in the shoulder associated with vague pain the front or top of the shoulder. Physical exam techniques such as the crank test are used to support the diagnosis. An MRI may also reveal the tear. Shoulder arthroscopy, however, is the only definitive means of confirming a superior labral tear.
Treatment Nonoperative: Most superior labral tears can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, activity modification and physical therapy.

If nonoperative treatment fails, surgery may be indicated. Shoulder arthroscopy with smoothing, partial removal or reattachment of the superior labraum is the most common operative treatment. The details of superior labral tear treatment surgically are controversial and evolving rapidly.

Arthroscopic Pictures of a Superior Labral Tear

Maintaining strong shoulder and upper back muscles may help prevent some superior labral tears.