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What Do You Need To Know About SLAP Tear?

What is SLAP tear?

SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior. A labrum is a ring like cartilage located inside and around the shoulder joint. The labrum’s role is to assist with shoulder stability along with rotator cuff muscles.

In SLAP lesions, the top part of the labrum is usually the issue. This is due to the anatomy of the biceps tendon. The long head of the biceps attaches to the top of the labrum. In athletes who perform repetitive movements during sport, they are prone to injure the labrum by overusing the biceps and therefore causes damage.

SLAP Tear Diagram


Who is at risk of SLAP lesion?

Overhead athletes: Repeated shoulder overhead motion will put the shoulder in a vulnerable position. This may result in overusing the long head of biceps which causes tear.

Age > 35 years old: As age increases, the long head of Biceps progressively weakens. This may lead to the biceps not attaching as firmly as when they are younger and healthier. Therefore greater risk of a Labrum tear.

A fall on an outstretched arm: Falling will increase the pressure at the shoulder through an outstretched arm. This results in increasing pressure of the shoulder joint and potentially a labrum injury.


What are the signs and symptoms?

Clicking, clunking or popping sensation of the shoulder (painful)

Loss of range of motion and pain of the shoulder especially internal rotation and overhead movements

Weakness of the rotator cuff and scapular muscles

Not able to lay on the injured shoulder comfortably


How can physiotherapy help?

Education: Physiotherapists will discuss goals and load management in order to provide optimal rest and healing of the labrum.

Soft tissue release: To release surrounding muscles that are compensating and overworking due to pain and shoulder not moving properly.

Exercise prescription: Strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, biceps as well as other muscles around it. This will restore the function of the muscles and allow the patient to move more freely and it will reduce pain.


This information can be used to gain a better understanding of SLAP tear. To find out more about how we can help, or to book in for a consultation you can contact us via our Limp in Leap out Physiotherapy & Wellness contact us page, or book online here.

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