The shoulder joint is surrounded by a ring of cartilage known as the labrum. A specific injury to this area is termed a SLAP tear which stands for: Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. The injury involves a tear in the top (superior) part of the labrum, affecting both the front (anterior) and back (posterior) attachment points, which potentially involves the nearby biceps tendon.

The entire shoulder and arm can destabilize, even with a minor movement, because the biceps tendon comes into the shoulder and forms the cartilage socket of the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder.


We have helped many workers properly recover workers’ compensation benefits against employers when they’ve experienced a SLAP tear. SLAP tears can result from either a one-time traumatic event or from repetitive motions that lead to wear and tear over time. Examples of traumatic events that have led to SLAP tears in the workplace include:

Car or truck accidents

Landing a fall with an outstretched arm

Attempting to catch or quickly lift a heavy item

Dislocation of the shoulder

A fast or forceful arm movement when the arm is above shoulder level

SLAP tears that result from repetitive movements usually involves jobs that require heavy lifting and carrying. These continuous strenuous movement lead to extensive wear and tear in muscles which eventually can result in a SLAP tear. Specifically, workers in the manufacturing and construction industries are known to be at a higher risk for SLAP tears along with truck drivers.


The symptoms of SLAP tears mirror those of other shoulder injuries. These include:

Sensations of locking, popping, or grinding

Pain during movement or specific shoulder positions

Pain when lifting objects overheard

Decreased shoulder strength

Limited range of motion

A feeling that the shoulder might dislocate

Generally, a SLAP tear can severely limit your range of motion which in turn affects your ability to complete day-to-day activities.


When seeking treatment for a SLAP tear, it’s essential to communicate symptoms clearly to the doctor, providing details about when and how they began. Diagnosis involves a physical examination assessing shoulder strength, stability, and range of motion along with imaging tests like X-rays and MRIs to rule out bone issues and visualize labral tears.

Non-surgical treatments are typically the initial approach, involving medications like ibuprofen for inflammation and pain management, along with physical therapy focusing on muscle strengthening and range of motion improvement. SLAP tears can take up to six months to a year to recover from. In some cases, arthroscopic surgery may be required if conservative measures prove insufficient.

For those experiencing shoulder pain or suspecting a SLAP tear, prompt consultation with a healthcare professional is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan to avoid future pain and suffering. That means getting with an orthopedic doctor who has years experience treating these very serious shoulder injuries.

And if you’d like help with the work comp case or just have general questions, we can help you no matter where in Illinois you are. Call us any time at 888-705-1766 to speak with a lawyer for free. There is no commitment and we will treat you like a family member or friend.