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What Is a SLAP Injury?

What Is a SLAP Injury?

According to population surveys by the National Institutes of Health, 25% of adults will experience shoulder pain at some point in their lives. Nearly 10% of those injuries are superior labrum, anterior to posterior, or SLAP, injuries. The labrum is a ring of cartilage surrounding your shoulder joint socket. SLAP injuries happen when the upper labrum is torn.

Here are some common causes, symptoms, and treatments for a SLAP injury.

Common Causes of SLAP Injuries

SLAP injuries can happen suddenly or over time. An acute SLAP tear can result from a motor vehicle accident, a sudden fall, forceful pulling on the arm, or other quick shoulder trauma. People who play sports with lots of overhead motion, such as baseball, softball, or swimming, commonly experience SLAP tears.

Aging is also a cause of a SLAP injury. The labrum wears out over time due to general use and can easily tear as people age. Aging SLAP tears typically occur in patients 40 years or older.

SLAP Injury Symptoms

SLAP injuries feel similar to other shoulder injuries. Common symptoms of a SLAP tear include:

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Dull aches or sharp pains
  • Pain in movement or holding the shoulder in a specific position
  • Popping or grinding noises, and a sensation of locking or catching
  • Feeling as if your shoulder could pop out
  • Dead arm

If you feel any of these symptoms, reach out to an orthopaedic specialist. The earlier you recognize the signs, the quicker you can begin recovery.

Treatments for SLAP Injuries

Orthopaedic doctors will perform a physical exam and order imaging scans to diagnose the injury. Most treatment is nonsurgical and includes rest, anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy.

If the SLAP injury is severe or doesn’t improve with nonsurgical treatment, minor surgery can also be performed. However, there are four types of SLAP tears, so surgical treatment depends on the severity of the injury and whether the patient is suffering from a combination of either frayed, dislocated, or bucket-handled labrum tears. The recovery time for surgery is 8-12 weeks.

Experienced SLAP Injury Treatment in St. Augustine

To recover from a SLAP injury, you will need an experienced orthopaedic team. The orthopaedic specialists, physicians, and physical and occupational therapists at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine are ready to help you regain your mobility and get back to a life free of pain.

Request an appointment online or give us a call today at 904-825-0540.


Sina Kasraeian, MD 
Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and has extensive training in arthroscopy and sports medicine reconstructive procedures.


Dr. Volk, expert in ArthroscopyAlbert Volk, MD 
Board certifications in Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Dr. Volk specializes in an all-arthroscopic rotator cuff repair of the shoulder.