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As a matter of fact, a SLAP Tear can be the cause of shoulder pain. Let me explain: Certainly, the socket of the shoulder joint has a complex structure where the center is composed of the bony part of the socket (part of the shoulder blade) with hyaline cartilage coating and this is surrounded with a softer material, called the “glenoid labrum.” Here is an image of the anatomy of the shoulder. To put it differently, with baseball pitchers or in occupations with similar strenuous actions the upper edge of this can tear , called “labral tear”. This can tear in 4 different ways and that’s why there is a classification of type I, II,III and IV SLAP lesion (Ref. 4). To put it another way, other names for this injury are: superior glenoid labral tear or glenoid labral tear.

Surgical approach of dealing with SLAP lesion

Moreover, the orthopedic surgeon with an interest in shoulder injuries will use different ways of dealing with each of these injuries. Be that as it may, after imaging studies to identify the labral tear in the shoulder there will likely be a shoulder arthroscopy and depending on the complexity this alone might allow to fix the rotator cuff injury, called SLAP lesion. At the same time, however, if this is technically impossible, the surgeon can convert the arthroscopy into an open procedure and fix the damage with shoulder surgery in the conventional way.

Often the surgeon realizes taht the damage is too extensive to repair completely. He can only minimize minimize the impact by doing what is possible. In about 40% of SLAP lesion cases there is also a simultaneous rotator cuff injury (Ref. 4). And in other cases there is extensive end stage osteoarthritis, where reverse shoulder arthroplasty is used to improve on the range of motion.


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2. The Merck Manual, 7th edition, by M. H. Beers et al., Whitehouse Station, N.J., 1999.

3. Goldman: Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 21st ed.(©2000)W.B.Saunders

4. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc.

5. Rakel: Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

6. Wheeless’ Textbook of Orthopaedics: Several topics can be found under this link by entering the term you search for.

7. Suzanne Somers: “Breakthrough” Eight Steps to Wellness– Life-altering Secrets from Today’s Cutting-edge Doctors”, Crown Publishers, 2008

Last modified: July 11, 2019

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.