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What is a SLAP lesion?

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The shoulder joint is basically just a ball and a socket. The ball is actually a lot larger than the bone part of the socket, which allows great movement of the arm. The socket is rimmed and made larger by an area of cartilage known as the glenoidallabrum. The tear of this cartilage is known as a Superior Labrum tear from Anterior to Posterior or SLAP.

This injury is quite often the result of overhead reaching or throwing actions and suffered by athletes engaging in these activities.However simple household or garden chores can cause the injury and people often have no idea what the cause is. Some people consider that the tear is a result often of a sudden trauma which would otherwise dislocate the shoulder. Other incidences are reflections of repetitive actions involving strain.

These movements are likely to twist and pull the arm which is joined to the shoulder by means of a tendon which wraps over the top of the arm (humerus) and joins the cartilage. The arm can therefore inadvertently be turned into a lever, which tears the tendon and cartilage rim. The pulling is in a front to back direction and this is what the anterior to posterior part of the name refers to.

The effect of this injury is likely to be pain when trying to carry out overhead or throwing actions. Sufferers are likely to complain of a dull ache of the shoulder and may use ice. More persistent pain may also be present and this may be enough to keep the patient awake at night.

There are many recognized types of SLAP injury, categorized according to how deep the tear is and exactly where it occurs.

Anyone who finds they are suffering from these types of symptoms should obtain Orthopedic advice immediately.

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