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SLAP Tear Physical Therapy

Updated: May 5, 2022


A Superior Labrum, Anterior to Posterior tear is commonly known as a SLAP tear. Per the Cleveland Clinic it is estimated that 4-8% of all shoulder injuries involve SLAP tears. Before we dive into the causes and treatment of a SLAP tear, it is important to understand the anatomy.

SLAP tear anatomy SLAP tear physical therapy

This image is courtesy of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and it highlights the relevant structures involved in a SLAP tear. The labrum is the primary structure involved in a SLAP tear, and it is the inert lining that increases the stability of the shoulder joint. The shoulder joint is one of the most unstable joints in the body, which allows for our significant mobility. However, additional support is required, and this is what the labrum provides. It creates a larger surface area for the head of the humerus (your upper arm bone) to adhere to.

The biceps tendon is another important structure in a SLAP tear. There are actually two heads to your biceps, one inserts directly into your scapula, while the other actually inserts into your labrum. The tendon that inserts into your labrum provides security to prevent your humerus from dislocating superiorly, or upwards. There are many other muscles including your rotator cuff that provide stability in the region, but the biceps is the most important in this case.