SLAP tear is an acronym for Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior tear. These are seen classically in athlete’s involved in throwing injuries. In the routine non athlete we see these tears when there has been a jerk to the shoulder – like falling from height, jerk from a dog leash or when holding the overhead bar when traveling in a local train or bus.
SLAP tears are often missed, as they can be difficult to diagnose.. Patients present with weak throwing arm and pain usually at the back of the shoulder joint. One can diagnose SLAP tears clinically but have to be confirmed by MRI at a standard centre. Minor Grade I SLAP tears may be treated with rehabilitation. However frank SLAP tears, which are full thickness tears – Grade II, III or IV, will need surgical repair.
There is no open surgical solution for treatment of SLAP tears. Arthroscopic repair remains the only solution. Only three small puncture scars are given & patients go home on the same day of surgery. They can join back work within a week. Once repaired effectively, SLAP tear heals up in six weeks. After this patient attends a two-week supervised physiotherapy rehab programme. Those who are sportsman may resume their sports activities not before 6 months after surgery. We have had several national athletes, including Cricket players, Wrestlers, Weight lifters, Swimmers who have gone back to their respective sports.
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