The SLAP 👋 Tear

This video demonstrates what a SLAP tear looks like anatomically.

I find it’s helpful to visualise this and also to bear in mind that the shoulder is a ball and socket joint but a relatively unstable one (golf ball-golf tee rather than a true ball and socket). The tendons, ligaments and muscles around the shoulder help to keep the joint in place.

The Labrum sits as a circumferential rim around the glenoid. It serves to deepen the socket and therefore to stabilise the shoulder in joint. 

A SLAP (superior labral tear from anterior to posterior) tear occurs when there is damage to the superior (top) area of the labrum. It can be an acute or an overuse injury.

Symptoms include:

  • Deep, throbbing pain
  • Decreased range of motion, especially overhead
  • Instability in the shoulder
  • Loss of shoulder strength

Treatment for SLAP tears will normally start with conservative measures such as anti-inflammatories and physical therapy to balance the muscles in the shoulder and rebuild strength. If this fails, arthroscopic surgery combined with post-op physical therapy usually yields good results.

video: Visible Body

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