A SLAP tear is a tear in the labrum of the shoulder. If you look at the anatomy of the shoulder joint, you will see that the socket is actually very shallow compared to the ball (head) of the arm bone. This puts the shoulder at risk of instability. The labrum is a cartilage which lines the rim of the socket to deepen it. Therefore, it plays a very important role in shoulder stability.
What are the characteristics of activities that cause a SLAP tear?
- Repetitive shoulder movement especially at or above 90 degrees e.g. swimming, tennis, throwing
- Fall on outstretched hand
- Unsuccessfully catching a falling object with outstretched arm
- Catching yourself as you fall and hanging with your arm
Signs and symptoms of SLAP tear
- Pain in the shoulder as you lift your arm up in front and side, in particular past 90 degrees
- Pain with throwing action
- Pain with bearing weight through your hands
- Pain lying on the injured shoulder
- Although painful, you are still able to reach full range
What does the science currently say?
- An intact labrum creates a seal to the ball and socket joint of the shoulder and provides a vacuum effect in keeping the ball intact with the socket. Tearing of the labrum will impact stability at the shoulder
- As such, surgery is often needed if someone has a SLAP tear and is symptomatic
How can Physiotherapy help?
Your Physiotherapist will be able to:
- Help diagnose a SLAP tear
- Provide manual therapy to reduce pain and tightness
- Provide scapular stabilisation and shoulder strengthening exercises
- Provide exercises and guide through rehabilitation after SLAP repair