Labral SLAP Tear (Shoulder Socket Injuries)

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Shoulder Injury AccidentsThe shoulder joint socket is very shallow and therefore unstable. The glenoid is the part of the shoulder blade (scapula) that makes up the socket. The labrum (glenoid labrum) is a layer of tissue/cartilage that lines the shoulder socket. The labrum in effect turns the shallow socket into a deeper socket. This gives the ball, or the head of the humerus bones (humeral head), more room to fit into the socket. The labrum stabilizes the ball-and-socket shoulder joint by keeping the ball (humeral head) in the socket (scapula).

Common Labral Tears

  • SLAP Tear: A Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior tear or SLAP Tear is most common labral rear. SLAP tears are typically located towards the front of the arm where biceps tendon connects to the shoulder. Biceps tendon tears sometimes accompany SLAP tears.
  • Bankart Tear: Bankart tears usually occur when the shoulder dislocates. A bankart tear destabilizes the shoulder and increases the likelihood of future dislocations.

Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior tear or SLAP Tear and Bankart Tears are be caused by acute trauma or years of repeated shoulder motion. An acute trauma related injury may be caused by:

  • A car accident;
  • Slip and Fall onto an arm that is outstretched;
  • Forceful pulling on the arm as occurs when trying to catch a heavy object;
  • Forcefully moving the arm when it is positioned above the level of the shoulder;
  • Dislocated Shoulder.

SLAP tears share similar symptoms with other shoulder injuries. A SLAP tear may cause a popping, crackling or locking sound or sensation when moving the arm and shoulder. Localized shoulder pain whenever moving the arm or shoulder is a common symptom found in almost all shoulder injuries. Decreased strength and range of motion are other shared symptoms.

If the diagnosis is uncertain and the symptoms are not too serious the physician will likely pursue a conservative course of treatment. Treatment might consist of anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil and Naproxen. Physical therapy could also be prescribed in order to restore shoulder strength and mobility. Surgery may be required if the pain and other symptoms do not improve with a conservative course of treatment. Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure whereby the physician inserts a tiny camera into the shoulder. Images from the camera are shown on a T.V. in the operating room. The surgeon uses the images on the T.V. to perform repairs with tiny surgical instruments. Arthroscopic surgery is considered a minimally invasive surgical procedure.

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