Can SLAP tear heal on its own?

Answered by Willie Powers

SLAP tears, which stands for Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior tears, are a common injury to the shoulder joint. These tears occur in the labrum, which is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint. SLAP tears specifically involve the top part of the labrum where the biceps tendon attaches.

Unfortunately, SLAP tears do not have the ability to heal on their own. The reason for this is that the blood supply to the labrum is limited, making it difficult for the tear to receive the necessary nutrients and cells for healing. Additionally, the constant movement and use of the shoulder joint can further hinder the healing process.

When a SLAP tear occurs, it often causes pain and discomfort in the shoulder. This pain is typically felt deep within the joint and can be worsened with certain movements or activities. In some cases, a SLAP tear can also cause a clicking sensation or popping sound in the shoulder, especially when moving the arm in certain positions.

If left untreated, SLAP tears can lead to chronic pain, weakness, and instability in the shoulder joint. This can significantly impact an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and participate in sports or physical activities.

To properly heal a SLAP tear, surgery is typically required. The specific surgical procedure will depend on the severity and location of the tear. One common surgical technique is arthroscopy, where small incisions are made in the shoulder and a tiny camera and surgical instruments are used to repair the tear.

During the surgery, the torn labrum is reattached to the bone using sutures or anchors. In some cases, the biceps tendon may also need to be addressed if it is involved in the tear. The goal of the surgery is to restore stability and function to the shoulder joint, allowing the tear to heal properly.

Following surgery, a period of rehabilitation and physical therapy is necessary to regain strength, range of motion, and stability in the shoulder. This typically involves a gradual progression of exercises and stretches to promote healing and prevent stiffness.

It is important to note that the recovery process after SLAP tear surgery can vary from person to person. Factors such as the individual’s age, overall health, and the extent of the tear can impact the timeline and outcomes of recovery. It is crucial to follow the guidance and recommendations of the surgeon and physical therapist to optimize the healing process.

SLAP tears do not have the ability to heal on their own due to limited blood supply and the constant movement of the shoulder joint. Surgery is typically necessary to repair the tear and allow for proper healing. Rehabilitation and physical therapy are essential components of the recovery process to regain strength and stability in the shoulder joint. If you suspect a SLAP tear, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.