Expert Insights from Hassan Mohamoud, Specialist Physiotherapist in Battersea
They both give you severe pain, loss of movement and difficulty doing everyday tasks at home and at work. So why is it important to differentiate between a shoulder slap tear or a shoulder tendon that is inflamed ? Because the recovery time for each condition is different , with a tear taking 6-9 months to heal and tendonitis 6- 8 weeks! Our Battersea Physiotherapy can help you to full recovery no matter what injury you have.
The most common shoulder tear is a SLAP Lesion:
When someone has shoulder pain it could be down to many conditions, however the two common tears are SLAP tears and rotator cuff tendon tears. Let’s break it down in simple terms:
SLAP Tears (Superior Labral Anterior Posterior):
Imagine your shoulder’s anatomy like a puzzle. The superior region of the glenoid labarum, a crucial cartilage ring, can sometimes get torn. This is what we call a SLAP tear. It’s often associated with shoulder instability and may even involve the biceps tendon. Whether you’re into sports or everyday activities, SLAP tears can happen, affecting your shoulder’s strength and stability.
SLAP lesions are categorised into four groups:
1. Degenerative fraying with no bicep involvement.
2. Detachment of the superior labarum and the biceps tendon from the glenoid rim.
3. Bucket-handle tear of the labarum with an intact biceps tendon to the bone.
4. Intra-substance tear of the biceps tendon with a bucket-handle tear of the superior aspect of the labarum.
Common Causes and Clinical Symptoms of SLAP Lesions
It is more commonly seen in active individuals who play a sport or tasks that involve repetitive activities like throwing, hyperextending the shoulder, or lifting beyond one’s capacity can lead to these lesions. I have seen SLAP lesions in climbers and tennis players most often, but on some occasions it can be caused by falling over with an outstretched hand tearing the cartilage in the shoulder.
Here’s how a SLAP tear can happen:
1. Repetitive Shoulder Motion: Athletes who participate in overhead sports such as baseball, tennis, swimming, and weightlifting might be more prone to developing SLAP tears due to repetitive shoulder movements.
2. Traumatic Events: A sudden trauma, such as:
· Falling onto an outstretched arm.
· A direct blow to the shoulder.
· A sudden pull, such as when trying to lift a heavy object.
· A rapid movement or overextension of the arm when throwing.
3. Motor Vehicle Accidents: The force from a car accident can result in a SLAP tear, especially if the shoulder hits the vehicle interior or if there’s a forceful yank on the seat belt.
4. Shoulder Dislocation: If the shoulder joint is forced out of its normal position, it can result in various injuries, including a SLAP tear.
5. Wear and Tear: Over time, the labarum can undergo wear and tear, just like other parts of the body. Aging might lead to weakening of the labarum, making it more susceptible to tears.
6. Lifting Heavy Objects: Trying to lift something too heavy can place an undue strain on the shoulder, leading to a SLAP tear.
Identifying the exact cause can sometimes be tricky because SLAP tears can result from a combination of factors, including anatomical characteristics, muscle imbalances, and activity levels. Proper diagnosis typically requires physical examination, patient history, and imaging studies like an MRI.
Our Physiotherapists in Battersea will Differentiate Between SLAP Tears and Rotator Cuff Tendon Tears for you:
The experts at Clearcut Physiotherapy in Battersea will complete a thorough physiotherapy assessment to identify which condition you suffer from. They’ll ask about when the pain started, what triggers it, and how it behaves. By piecing together this information, they can pinpoint whether it’s the upper part of your shoulder’s cartilage (SLAP tear) or the strong bands connecting muscles to bones (rotator cuff tendon tear) that’s causing the trouble. Think of it as a personalised roadmap to navigate your shoulder pain, leading to a clearer understanding and a targeted plan for recovery.
Treatment Options: From Surgery to Physiotherapy
The seriousness of a SLAP lesion determines the treatment. While minor tears may recover with physiotherapy, severe ones often require surgical intervention, followed by rehabilitation. Medical professionals might also advise anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections for pain management.
Quoting a Relevant Study
A 5-year follow-up study titled “Long-term results after SLAP repair: a 5-year follow-up study of 107 patients with comparison of patients aged over and under 40 years” suggests nuanced approaches in treating and understanding the long-term impacts of SLAP lesions. One key discovery emerged when comparing patients above and below 40 years old. The study indicated that age plays a significant role in the long-term results of SLAP repairs. Younger patients, those under 40, showcased different outcomes compared to their older counterparts. This insight underscores the importance of tailoring treatment approaches based on age demographics, highlighting the need for personalised strategies to address SLAP lesions effectively.
Why Choose Clearcut Physiotherapy?
At Clearcut Physiotherapy Battersea, our expertise shines in managing both non-operatively and post-operatively treated SLAP lesions and labral tears. Our tailored approach includes soft tissue therapies, like massage and cupping, paired with structured strengthening exercises. We’re dedicated to restoring your shoulder’s function and ensuring a pain-free recovery!