A SLAP tear is one of the most painful and inhibiting shoulder injuries that you can suffer from, apart from a fracture. It is basically a tear of the connective tissue that attaches your bicep muscle to the labrum. If you suffer a SLAP tear, it is very likely that you will need surgery to repair the damage — and undergoing shoulder surgery can be scary! You will feel more confident, however, if you have your questions answered prior to your surgical appointment. To that end, take a look at the questions and answers that follow.
Will you be put under anesthesia for the procedure?
Yes, general anesthesia is almost always used for shoulder surgeries of this scale. There is a growing trend toward performing orthopedic surgeries under regional anesthetic and a sedative, but shoulders are a bit of an exception to this trend since it is really hard to numb this area of the body. You'll be completely under when the surgery is performed, and you'll wake up soon after the procedure is over.
How long will you have to be in the hospital post-surgery?
Not long! If your surgery is performed in the morning, you will likely be sent home that evening. If your surgery is later in the day, you might stay overnight for observation. You will need someone to drive you home from surgery and stay with you, at least for a couple of days. But the majority of your recovery will take place at home.
How long will it take you to recover?
Since the tissue torn in a SLAP tear is involved each and every time you move your shoulder, it can take quite a while for you to fully recover. For most people, it is a few months before they are able to return to work, assuming they have a position that's not overly physical. It can take longer to regain full function. In order for recovery to proceed at this pace, it is very important that you attend physical therapy. The physical therapist will help stretch out your shoulder and strengthen the muscles, which will have atrophied to some degree while you were resting.
Is recovery painful?
This is most patients' biggest concern before SLAP tear surgery. The short answer is "yes." The good news is that there are many ways to manage your pain. Your surgeon will likely send you home with an ice machine that will circulate cool water around your shoulder, keeping swelling and pain at bay. You'll also be prescribed pain relievers that should keep the pain at bay. The pain should greatly diminish after the first week.
If you have suffered a SLAP tear in your shoulder, surgery is your best bet for a full recovery. If you have any additional questions, bring them to the attention of your general surgeon.