SLAP Lesion

What is a SLAP Lesion?

A SLAP lesion is an injury to the part of your shoulder joint called the glenoid labrum. This is a rim of cartilage around the shoulder joint cavity. Your shoulder joint socket is very shallow so the rim of cartilage increases the stability around your shoulder joint.

A specific type of labral tear is called a SLAP tear. This stands for Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior. The SLAP tear occurs at the point where the tendon of the biceps muscle inserts on the labrum resulting in a tear at the top of the joint capsule.

What Causes a SLAP Lesion?

  • A SLAP lesion is most likely to happen from direct trauma to the shoulder, a fall on the shoulder or repeated overhead activity
  • Athletes who play sports such as basketball, football, swimming, cricket, rugby, GAA are at higher risk in developing such injuries due to the risk of trauma and repeated overhead activity.
  • SLAP lesions can be difficult to diagnose and  investigations such as MRIs or an arthroscopy may be needed.

Common Signs and Symptoms of a SLAP Lesion

  • A throbbing ache in the shoulder joint
  • Increase in pain during activity and loading activities
  • Loss of strength
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Joint feeling unstable
  • Pain persists after a strengthening rehabilitation programme
  • In cases of SLAP tears with associated biceps tendonitis, patients may complain of pain over the front of the shoulder.


  • Specific strengthening rehabilitation exercises will be designed by a Chartered Physiotherapist to re-establish stability in the shoulder region
  • Relative rest – this means stopping doing the activity that aggravates the pain but do not stop moving your shoulder. It may help if you can improve your posture in sitting or when doing activities.
  • Shoulder arthroscopy. This is a type of surgery to repair the damage to your shoulder joint.



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