SLAP Lesions

What is a SLAP Lesion?

A SLAP lesion or a SLAP tear is the acronym for a superior labrum anterior and posterior lesion/tear. It is an injury or tear to the labrum part of the shoulder joint. The shoulder has a joint function similar to the hip but is much shallower and more prone to dislocation. The SLAP tear is where the tendon of the bicep muscle inserts itself on the labrum.

What are the causes of a SLAP Lesion?

The specific cause of a SLAP tear can vary greatly but there are some broader categories that they often fall in:

  • A forced shoulder dislocation
  • Forceful pulling on the arm
  • Rapid or forceful movement of the arm when it is above the level of the shoulder

What are the signs and symptoms of a SLAP Lesion?

Pain and weakness are generally the primary signs and symptoms of a SLAP lesion. This can be constant or aggravated with movement. Some specific signs to look for are:

  • Pain with movement of the shoulder or withholding the shoulder in specific positions
  • Loss of strength, pain with lifting heavy objects
  • A feeling that the shoulder is going to “pop out of joint”

What are risk factors of a SLAP Lesion?

Most risk factors for a SLAP tear or injury are unavoidable. But generally, they can be related to:

  • Throwing athletes or weightlifters
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Shoulder dislocation

What are possible treatments for a SLAP Lesion?

Possible treatments (non-invasive) to address a SLAP tear/injury are physical therapy, steroid injections and rest. When those are not helping return strength or alleviate pain, surgery to repair a SLAP tear/injury may be necessary.

Are there preventative steps or measures to avoid a SLAP Lesion?

Some preventative steps are exercise, stretching, and awareness of weight being put on the shoulder.

What are the risks if a SLAP Lesion is left untreated?

Risks if left untreated are mostly centered around prolonged pain, weakness and loss of function.


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