In patients over the age of 40, a common cause of superior labrum anterior and posterior tears is the normal aging process that leads to a gradual wearing down of the labrum, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Repetitive overhead sports and acute trauma from injuries are common causes of SLAP tears in people under the age of 40.
The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the glenoid, the socket in which the humerus meets the scapula of the shoulder, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A SLAP tear occurs when the top portion of either the front or back of the labrum is injured or wears away. Motor vehicle accidents, falling on an outstretched arm, forceful pulls on the arm and shoulder dislocation can lead to SLAP tears. Repetitive shoulder motion during weightlifting and sports that involve overhead throwing may also lead to labrum tears.
SLAP tears cause pain when moving the shoulder, loss of shoulder strength and decreased range of motion, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Doctors may initially prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy for patients who have SLAP tears, though if there is no improvement, they may recommend surgery.