What is a Type 3 SLAP tear in the shoulder?

Answered by Antonio Sutton

A Type 3 SLAP tear in the shoulder is a specific type of injury that affects the labrum, which is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint. SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior, indicating the location of the tear.

A Type 3 tear is often referred to as a “bucket-handle” tear because the torn labrum hangs into the joint, resembling the handle of a bucket. This type of tear can cause symptoms such as locking, popping, or clunking sensations in the shoulder. It can also lead to pain, weakness, and limited range of motion.

The bucket-handle segment of the labrum can become caught in the joint during certain movements, causing the shoulder to feel stuck or locked in position. This can be quite uncomfortable and may require manual manipulation to free the joint. The popping or clunking sensation is often felt when the torn labrum moves in and out of the joint during shoulder movements.

Treatment for a Type 3 SLAP tear typically involves a surgical procedure to address the torn labrum. The first step is the removal of the bucket-handle segment that is hanging into the joint. This is necessary to eliminate the locking and catching symptoms. The remaining detached and unstable labrum is then repaired through a SLAP repair procedure.

During the SLAP repair, the surgeon reattaches the torn labrum to the shoulder socket using sutures or anchors. This helps to restore stability to the joint and improve overall shoulder function. The specific technique used may vary depending on the individual case and the surgeon’s preference.

Recovery from a Type 3 SLAP tear and the subsequent surgery can take several months. Physical therapy is an essential part of the rehabilitation process to regain strength, flexibility, and stability in the shoulder. The therapist will guide the patient through a series of exercises to gradually restore range of motion and strengthen the surrounding muscles.

It is important to note that the severity of the tear and the individual’s overall health and activity level can influence the treatment approach and prognosis. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

In my experience as a medical professional, I have seen many patients with Type 3 SLAP tears in the shoulder. These injuries can be quite debilitating and can significantly impact a person’s daily life and physical activities. However, with the appropriate treatment and diligent rehabilitation, many individuals are able to recover and regain full function of their shoulder.