A slap lesion describes a damage/injury/pathology to the superior anterior posterior (SLAP) labrum in the shoulder joint (Schroder et al., 2017).
The shoulder joint is considered a ‘ball and socket’ joint. The socket is somewhat deepened by a circumferential rim of fibrocartilage which is called the glenoidal labrum. A “SLAP tear or lesion” occurs when there is damage to the superior or uppermost area of the labrum.
The increased frequency relates to the relatively recent description of labral injuries in throwing athletes. Very few patients with SLAP lesion injuries return to full capability without surgical intervention. Traction and compression are the most common factors leading to a SLAP lesion (Chow, 2012). Throwing and overhead racket activities, especially during deceleration, which can lead to a traction injury (Chow, 2012).
In some cases Physiotherapy can strengthen the supporting muscles in the shoulder joint to the point of reestablishing stability.
Surgical intervention includes arthroscopy or open Bankart techniques (Harris et al., 2013).
Schroder C.P. et al., 2017, Sham surgery versus labral repair or biceps tenodesis for type II SLAP lesions of the shoulder: a three-armed randomised clinical trial, British Journal of Sports Medicine, pii: bjsports-2016-097098. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097098
Harris J.D. et al., 2013, Long-term outcomes after Bankart Shoulder Stabilization, Arthroscopy: the Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery, 29(5); pp: 920-933
Chow J.C.Y., 2012, Advanced Arthroscopy, Springer, Mt. Vernon, Illinois, p:106