Comparing Common Types of Shoulder Tears

doctor examining patient with shoulder pain

And Where to Find the Best Shoulder Surgeons in Wichita

Shoulder pain and discomfort is one of the most common issues we treat at Mid-America Orthopedics. According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 30 percent of the adults they surveyed reported experiencing pain in the shoulder and upper limb area. Additionally, the data indicates that individuals in the 65 and over demographic are at a higher risk; 42 percent reported shoulder/upper limb pain.

Considering the pivotal role that the shoulder plays in everyday arm function, shoulder pain can limit a person’s ability to perform normal tasks such as getting dressed, driving a vehicle, and carrying objects. Shoulder pain can even result in referred pain, which is pain felt in the arm and/or neck region due to a shoulder condition.

Out of all the various conditions that can affect the shoulder, SLAP tears and labrum tears are among the most debilitating and painful of shoulder injuries. Shoulder pain treatment is required for both, and in certain scenarios, orthopedic shoulder surgeons will need to get involved to repair the damage and restore mobility.

What is a SLAP Tear?

A SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) tear is when an injury occurs to the ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder joint socket, which is known as the labrum. In addition to serving as an attachment point in the joint, it also helps stabilize it.

SLAP tears are typically caused by some form of trauma or abrupt force that injures the superior portion of the labrum. They can occur during automobile accidents, by having the arm pulled with excessive force, through shoulder dislocation, or by attempting to catch an especially heavy object. SLAP tears may also occur as a result of repetitive motions that wear down the labrum, such as throwing a baseball or weightlifting.

The symptoms of a SLAP tear include:

  • Compromised range of motion and/or strength
  • The feeling that the shoulder may dislodge from its joint
  • Shoulder pain when bearing weight or during certain movements
  • An unnatural grinding, popping, or locking sensation

What is a Labrum Tear?

Labrum tears come in a few different varieties, which makes it easy to confuse them with other types of injury. The labrum can be torn completely off the bone, partially torn, torn and lodged into the joint, or torn in the area where the bicep tendon adjoins with the socket’s upper end.

Depending on the severity of the labrum tear, those affected may experience the following symptoms:

  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Shoulder pain during specific motions
  • A feeling that the shoulder joint is catching when moved
  • An achy or throbbing sensation in the shoulder

How Are SLAP Tears and Labrum Tears Addressed?

SLAP tears and labrum tears are particularly difficult to diagnose because they can be mistaken for tendonitis, rotator cuff disorders, and other shoulder conditions. The first order of business when addressing a SLAP or labrum tear is to get it properly diagnosed, which means multiple tests may need to be performed to achieve that. In addition to a physical examination, your orthopedic doctor may order X-rays, a CT scan, an MRI, or bone scan.

Once a proper diagnosis has been made, your orthopedic doctor will use a non-surgical approach in the case of mild to moderate labral tears. Those treatments may involve a combination of physical therapy, rehabilitation, and pain medication.

However, if the tear is deemed too severe, orthopedic shoulder surgeons will bypass non-invasive methods and move directly to surgical options. Depending on the specific type of tear, arthroscopic surgery or open surgery may be required. Shoulder pain treatment involving tears is not uniform since every patient and their condition is different. Ultimately, shoulder surgeons try to stick with the least invasive method possible.

Finding Shoulder Surgeons Near You in Wichita

SLAP and labrum tears aren’t the only conditions that necessitate the attention of orthopedic doctors and shoulder surgeons. If you are experiencing extreme and/or chronic pain, lack of mobility, or other sensations that indicate your shoulder is compromised – don’t hesitate to reach out to Mid-America Orthopedics to arrange an appointment.

Once our orthopedic doctors have a chance to examine the area and gather your medical history, they will be able to devise a treatment plan that’s tailored to you and your specific condition. Most cases involving shoulder pain can be resolved without surgical intervention; however, our practice has some of the most experienced orthopedic shoulder surgeons in Wichita just in case your condition warrants it.

Set up an appointment with us today to get started. You can also reach us by phone during normal business hours at (316) 630-9300. For the convenience of our patients, Mid-America Orthopedics is typically able to offer same-day or next-day appointments.