Labral Tear (SLAP Lesion)


A labral tear is a very common injury in sports. It usually occurs in athletes who use their shoulders to hit or lift things over their heads. There are several different types of labral lesions and understanding them can help you with your recovery.

The labrum is a ring of fibrous cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket. It's often called the glenoid labrum and helps deepen the socket. It also provides stability and shock absorption to the joint.


Labral Tear Causes

Injuries that affect the tissue that surrounds the shoulder socket can occur from either a sudden trauma or repetitive shoulder motion. This can include athletes who are weightlifters or those who engage in sports where throwing is involved.

Causes can include:

  • Falling on an outstretched arm.
  • A direct blow to the shoulder.
  • A sudden pull, such as when trying to lift a heavy object.
  • A violent overhead reach, such as when trying to stop a fall or slide.



Symptoms of a labral tear are similar to other shoulder injuries. These include:

  • Pain, usually with overhead activities
  • Catching, locking, popping, or grinding
  • Occasional night pain or pain with daily activities
  • A sense of instability in the shoulder
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Loss of strength



Until the diagnosis is complete, your physician may have you take anti-inflammatories and recommend rest to relieve the symptoms of a labral tear. Rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles may also be recommended. If these measures aren't effective, then arthroscopic surgery may be required.

Learn about Labral Tear surgery

If you have questions about a labral tear or want to make an appointment, please contact one of our Patient Care Coordinators and they'll be happy to assist you.