Labral And SLAP Tears Specialist

Athletes who repeatedly throw a ball, adults with age-related degeneration, and anyone who suffers an acute shoulder injury can develop painful labral and SLAP tears. Brent J. Morris, MD, in Lexington, Kentucky, specializes in treating all types of labral tears, repairing most shoulder problems using minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. If you have ongoing or sudden shoulder pain, call the office.

Orthopedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon located in Lexington, KY

Labral and SLAP Tears Q & A

What are labral and SLAP tears?

The labrum is a ring of cartilage that goes around the ball and socket joint in your shoulder, where it deepens the socket and stabilizes the upper arm bone in the joint. Ligaments and tendons also attach to the labrum.

You can develop several types of labral tears. The cartilage may tear away from the bone or around its rim. One of the most common labral tears, a SLAP tear, occurs on the top part of the labrum, where the biceps tendon attaches to the cartilage.

What causes labral and SLAP tears?

People who engage in sports that require repetitive overhead arm movements, such as pitchers and weightlifters, have a high risk of labral tears. As you get older, it’s common to gradually develop labral tears due to years of normal wear and tear.

A labral tear can also be caused by an acute injury, such as:

  • Dislocating your shoulder
  • Taking a direct blow to the shoulder
  • Falling onto an outstretched arm
  • Forceful pulling on the arm


Forceful pulling may occur when you try to catch something or suddenly lift a heavy object.

What symptoms develop due to labral tears?

When you have a labral tear you’ll experience:

  • Locking, clicking, or popping in the shoulder
  • Aching pain deep in the joint
  • Pain when moving your arm
  • Pain when sleeping on your side
  • Pain when lifting objects over your head
  • Diminished shoulder strength
  • Diminished arm movement
  • Shoulder instability


If you’re a pitcher, you’ll notice a drop in your throwing speed.

How are labral and SLAP tears treated?

Dr. Morris determines the severity of your labral tear and recommends treatment after examining your shoulder and reviewing the results of diagnostic imaging. If the damage is too severe for nonsurgical treatment, or if any tendons or ligaments are damaged, he may recommend surgery.

During surgery, Dr. Morris may only need to remove the torn portion of the cartilage and repair the labrum. However, if the tear affects a tendon or ligament, or they’re detached from the labrum, he needs to repair the tissues and reattach them using absorbable tacks or sutures.

In most cases, Dr. Morris performs arthroscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that uses only a few small incisions. Arthroscopic surgery causes minimal bleeding and trauma, so you have less postoperative pain and a faster recovery. 

If you develop shoulder pain or arm weakness, call Brent J. Morris, MD.

"Dr. Morris first listened to me, then examined me and answered all my questions. I found him thorough, straight to the point, and eager to help offering several strategies. I liked him and trust him." - Judy K.