Dr. Michael Terry, an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said a SLAP tear occurs in a part of the shoulder called the labrum, which is a cuff of cartilage that forms a cup for the arm bone to move within.
This type of tear often specifically affects the biceps tendon, a cord-like structure connecting the biceps muscles to the bone at the shoulder as it travels toward the elbow, Terry said.
Athletes who make repetitive overhead actions, such as baseball pitchers or swimmers are most prone to these injuries because of the enormous stress those activities place on the shoulder.
The alternative minimally invasive surgery -- biceps tenodesis -- is an outpatient arthroscopic procedure during which the surgeon treats the tear via two small incisions to cut the normal attachment of the biceps tendon then reattaches it to a position that is out of the way of the shoulder joint.
"Biceps tenodesis is a relatively new way to treat superior labral tears, but it's quickly gaining popularity," Terry said in a statement. "Most patients who undergo this procedure find that they are able to return to activity in six to 10 weeks; other options may require double that time for recovery and rehabilitation."