Superior Labral tear from Anterior to Posterior (SLAP) Tear

What is a SLAP tear?

The shoulder labrum is a ring of cartilage around the shoulder socket that stabilizes the head of the upper arm bone. As one of the most complex joints in the body, the shoulder joint is held together by an intricate network of tendons, ligaments and soft tissue. A SLAP tear is a torn piece of cartilage in the inner portion of the shoulder joint that can be caused by chronic or acute injuries, as well as aging (Knesek et al., 2012). 

Athletes participating in sports requiring repetitive overhead motions, such as baseball, swimming or weightlifting, are at risk of developing a SLAP tear over time. Acute trauma, such as falling on an outstretched arm, or quickly moving the arm over shoulder level can also be a cause of a SLAP tear. Tearing or fraying the labrum can also develop as a part of general aging, and is not uncommon in people over 40 years of age. 

Symptoms of a SLAP tear can include pain when moving or holding the shoulder in specific positions, reduced range of motion, decrease in shoulder power, locking or clicking in the shoulder, or discomfort when lifting items (Knesek et al., 2012).


If you have any pain during exercises, or are unsure about what you are doing, please consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Knesek, M., Skendzel, J., Dines, J., Altchek, D., Allen, A., & Bedi, A. (2012). Diagnosis and management of superior labral anterior posterior tears in throwing athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 41(2). doi:10.1177/0363546512466067