The labrum is a fibrocartilaginous soft tissue that encircles the rim of the glenoid (socket of the shoulder). The labrum helps provide stability to the shoulder. The long head of the biceps tendon also attaches to the glenoid (socket bone) by its attachment through the labrum. Injuries generally occur from overhead sports or an injury with the arm extended overhead. Injury to the superior (upper portion) of the labrum is referred to as a SLAP tear, which stands for superior labrum, anterior to posterior (front to back). Labral tears do not heal themselves because of their limited blood supply and the movement and instability of the torn portion; therefore, they typically require surgery. This tear may take the form of degenerative fraying, a split in the labrum, or a complete separation of the labrum off the bony glenoid. SLAP tears will often involve damage to the biceps tendon attachment. Superior labral tears can be difficult to see on MRI and are sometimes found only during arthroscopic surgery.
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