Biceps tendon disorders: SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior) tears

Biceps tendon disorders: SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior) tears

If you are unable to perform everyday movements such as taking the milk out of the fridge or lifting a water bottle without pain, you may have a SLAP lesion. If you can’t throw a stone or you can’t serve playing tennis you might have a SLAP lesion. This is a rupture or tear of the glenoid labrum in the glenoid cavity.

Our experts at Schoen Clinic specialise in treating SLAP lesions. They will find the cause and the right therapy for you.

SLAP tears: aftercare and rehab

Typically, you will usually be in hospital either for a day or overnight. Prior to discharge you will be seen by your consultant or physiotherapist and they will provide you with advice and an exercise programme to guide you through your recovery. You will be given a sling, which you will be required to wear for 3-4 weeks. You should avoid forced straightening of the elbow or heavy lifting for at least six weeks. You can expect to be back at work between 6-10 weeks depending on your occupation. Your symptoms should be approximately 80% better after three months but may take 6-12 months for a full recovery.


A supplementary local anaesthetic or nerve block is often used during the operation, which can result in the shoulder and arm feeling numb immediately afterwards – this may last for a few hours. Following this the shoulder may be sore and you will be given painkillers to relieve the pain whilst in hospital. When you are discharged you can continue to use painkillers plus ice packs which may also help to reduce pain e.g. wrap frozen peas or crushed ice in a damp, cold cloth and place on the shoulder for up to 20 minutes.

Wearing a sling

You will return from theatre wearing a sling. This is required for up to four weeks, to allow the repair to heal.


After leaving hospital you should exercise the arm frequently throughout the day. The arm may feel sore whilst you are doing the exercises but there should be no intense or lasting pain. Aim for two exercise sessions per day. Your physiotherapist will advise you regarding the exercises prior to discharge.

The wound

There will be no stitches (or absorbable ones) only small sticking plaster strips over the wounds. These should be kept dry until healed. This usually takes 5-7 days.


You may begin driving 4-5 weeks after your operation.

Returning to work

Returning to work will depend on your occupation. If you are in a sedentary job you may return as soon as you feel able, usually after one week. If your job involves heavy lifting or using your arm above shoulder height you may require a longer period of absence (eight weeks).

Leisure activities

You should avoid sustained, repetitive overhead activities or those involving forced elbow extension for three months.For guidance on any physical activities such as golf (typically can begin after 12 weeks), DIY and racquet sports you should speak with your physiotherapist for advice.

Follow-up appointment

A follow-up appointment will be made for you at the hospital for approximately three weeks after your surgery. At this stage you will be reviewed by your consultant who will check your progress, make sure you are moving your arm properly, and give you further exercises, as appropriate.