Superior Labral Anterior to Posterior Tear (SLAP TEAR) and Bankart Labral Tear


What is a labral tear?

When you think of the shoulder joint- think of a golf ball(the ball aspect of the shoulder) on the tee (the glenoid of the shoulder blade). The labrum would be if you cauked around the tee- the result would be increase in stability so that the ball could rest more easily on the tee. The labrum is the same support for the shoulder. When there is increase in fraying or a tear at the labrum, the result is pain, instability, and sometimes dislocation. 

Tears usually are a result of two mechanims: traumatic versus non-traumatic. Traumatic are tears that usually are a result of significant injury in sports or a fall. Non-traumatic are tears that are a result of overuse and/or decrease in strength of rotator cuff or scapular stabilizers. 

Labral tears are usually classified as Bankart or SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior or Posterior). Bankart usually occur at the front of the shoulder and reverse bankart occur at the backside of the shoulder. SLAP tears usually involve biceps and occur at the top of the shoulder/labrum.

What are symptoms of a labral tear?

  • Pain on top of shoulder
  • Sense of instability or being nervous in certain positions
  • Different noises including popping, clicking, snapping. 
  • Feeling like your shoulder is dislocating or may popout.


How can physical therapy help?

When a labral tear does not result in gross instability of the shoulder, physical therapy is often the main treatment. The physical therapist will help you avoid positions that stress the tear and increase your risk for instability, subluxation, or dislocation. They will also strengthening of the rotator cuff in order to stabilize the shoulder joint, as well as, address posture and postural muscle to address any asymmetries that may further irritate the labrum. Additionally, a physical theapist may perform stretching, soft tissue work, and different technique to normalize the shoulder joint and to decrease pain.