The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. A ‘ball’ at the top of the upper arm bone (the humerus) fits neatly into a ‘socket’, called the glenoid, which is part of the shoulder blade (scapula). The term SLAP (superior –labrum anterior-posterior) lesion or SLAP tear refers to an injury of the superior labrum of the shoulder. The labrum is a ring of fibrous cartilage surrounding the glenoid for stabilization of the shoulder joint. The biceps tendon attaches inside the shoulder joint at the superior labrum of the shoulder joint. The biceps tendon is a long cord-like structure which attaches the biceps muscle to the shoulder and helps to stabilize the joint.
The most common causes include falling on an outstretched arm, repetitive overhead actions such as throwing, and lifting a heavy object. Overhead and contact sports may put you at a greater risk of developing SLAP tears.
The most common symptom is pain at the top of the shoulder joint. In addition, catching sensation and pain most often with activities such as throwing may also occur.
Diagnosis is made based on the symptoms and physical examination. A regular MRI scan may not show up a SLAP tear and therefore an MRI with a contrast dye injected into the shoulder, is ordered. The contrast dye helps to highlight SLAP tears.
Your doctor may recommend anti- inflammatory medications to control pain. In athletes who want to continue their sports, arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder may be recommended. Depending on the severity of the lesion, SLAP tears may simply require debridement or some may need to be repaired. A SLAP repair can be done using arthroscopic techniques that require only two or three small incisions.
Regular exercises that make the shoulder muscles strong should be done. Adequate warm-up exercises before activities and avoiding high contact sports can help prevent injuries that cause instability.
Other Shoulder and Elbow Conditions
- Adult Forearm Fractures
- Arthritis of the Shoulder
- Biceps Tendon Tear at the Elbow
- Clavicle Fracture (Broken Collarbone)
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
- Distal Biceps Rupture
- Distal Humerus Fractures of the Elbow
- Dislocated Shoulder
- Elbow Dislocation
- Elbow Injuries in the Throwing Athlete
- Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis
- Elbow Fractures in Children
- Forearm Fractures in Children
- Fracture of the Shoulder Blade (Scapula)
- Frozen Shoulder
- Golfer’s Elbow
- Lateral Epicondylitis
- Osteoarthritis of the Elbow
- Osteochondritis Dissecans
- Radial Head Fractures of the Elbow
- Recurrent and Chronic Elbow Instability
- Rotator Cuff Tear
- Shoulder Joint Tear (Glenoid Labrum Tear)
- Shoulder Impingement
- Shoulder Injuries in the Throwing Athlete
- Shoulder Instability
- Shoulder Separation
- SLAP Tears
- Shoulder Trauma (Fractures and Dislocations)
- Tennis Elbow
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at the Elbow (Cubital TunnelSyndrome)
- Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury