As the Sports Medicine Center Virginia Beach trusts, Oceana Sports Medicine provides the latest techniques in SLAP tear repair, shoulder instability surgery and labral reconstruction.  Learn more below.

SLAP Tears

The shoulder is a highly flexible and mobile ball and socket joint. The relatively flat socket (glenoid fossa) is surrounded by a ring of cartilage called the labrum which functions to deepen the socket and provide stability for the ball (humeral head). The long head of the biceps tendon attaches to the superior (top) part of the labrum.

SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) lesions are tears involving the superior part of the labrum, where the biceps tendon attaches. It is thought that traction injuries are generally responsible for breakdown of the labral attachment to the bone and resultant labral injury. These lesions may occur during acute traumatic episode, such as a shoulder dislocations or a sudden traction injury to the arm, such as when trying to lift a heavy object suddenly or when trying to stop a fall or slide.

Isolated SLAP tears are also commonly seen in young overhead throwing athletes, such as baseball pitchers, where repetitive micro-trauma leads to breakdown of the labral attachment to the bony socket. In older individuals, SLAP tears are commonly seen with other shoulder pathology like rotator cuff tears, impingement and biceps tendinitis.

Labral tears can also occur along the back side of the socket, often seen in football linemen, or along the front end, commonly seen with shoulder dislocations.

Patients with SLAP lesions typically complain of shoulder pain, often localized deep in the joint or in the back of the shoulder, and usually associated with movement and overhead activity. Sometimes painful clicks or popping can be felt. Sometimes apprehension is seen with labral tears on the front of the socket.
SLAP lesions are typically diagnosed by the patient’s history and careful physical examination. The lesion can be confirmed by an MRI study supplemented with contrast injection in the joint to help visualize the lesion.
The treatment of SLAP and labral tears lesions depends on several factors, some of which include the nature of the lesion, the amount of debility, the duration of symptoms, associated injuries and the functional expectations, age and health of the patient. Sometimes, surgery is required to help you regain good, pain free function, and long-term shoulder health.

In patients experiencing pain, but no mechanical symptoms, a trial of non-operative treatment is often performed initially. This usually includes anti-inflammatory medications, a course of physical therapy, and possibly a cortisone injection.

Surgery for SLAP lesions involves either reattaching the labrum back to its position, and/or detaching the biceps tendon to relieve the traction effect on the labrum. Arthroscopy has revolutionized our ability to visualize and inspect these deep lesion, without causing undue damage to normal external anatomy.

At Oceana Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, Dr Aboka performs minimally invasive, all-arthroscopic treatment for labral and SLAP tears through keyhole incisions. This cutting-edge technique allows for thorough inspection of the shoulder joint, and facilitates identification and treatment of other painful conditions that may be present, ensuring return to good shoulder function. This procedure is outpatient/same-day surgery, and leads to less pain and scarring and quicker recovery.