SLAP lesions

Does SLAP lesions are treatable by physical therapy?

SLAP  lesions (Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior) lesions are tears or damage to the labrum, a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket. Physical therapy for SLAP lesions typically involves exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles, improve flexibility, and restore range of motion.

What are SLAP Lesions?

A SLAP lesion, also known as a superior labrum anterior and posterior tear, refers to an injury in the shoulder joint. It specifically damages the labrum, a ring of cartilage cushioning the ball-and-socket joint. This injury can be quite painful and impact overall shoulder function.

Anatomy:

Here’s anatomy involved in a SLAP lesion:

  1. Glenoid cavity: The socket of the shoulder joint, located on the shoulder blade.
  2. Humeral head: The ball-shaped upper end of the arm bone that fits into the glenoid cavity.
  3. Labrum: A ring of fibrocartilage that lines the rim of the glenoid cavity, deepening it and providing stability to the shoulder joint.
  4. Superior labrum: The uppermost part of the labrum, where the biceps tendon attaches.
  5. Biceps tendon (long head): The tendon that connects the long head of the biceps muscle to the superior labrum.
  6. Biceps tendon (long head) of the shoulder joint

A SLAP lesion can involve a tear, fraying, or detachment of the superior labrum, often at the point where the biceps tendon attaches. The tear can extend from the front (anterior) to the back (posterior) of the labrum, hence the name “SLAP”.

Symptoms:

  1. Pain: This is the most common symptom, typically felt deep within the shoulder and often worsening with overhead activities.
  2. Weakness: Weakness can occur in the shoulder due to pain and instability.
  3. Popping or clicking: Some individuals might experience clicking or popping sensations with shoulder movement.
  4. Locking: In severe cases, the shoulder might lock or get stuck in certain positions.
  5. Loss of motion: Reduced range of motion, particularly internal rotation, is often reported.

Causes:

  1. Overuse: Repetitive overhead activities, common in athletes like baseball players and tennis players, can stress the labrum, leading to tears.
  2. Falls: A sudden fall on an outstretched arm can damage the labrum and biceps tendon.
  3. Age-related degeneration: Wear and tear over time can weaken the labrum, making it susceptible to tears.

What are different types of SLAP lesions?

Types of SLAP Lesions:

  1. Type I: Fraying or detachment of the biceps tendon attachment without involving the labrum itself.
  2. Type II: Bucket-handle tear of the labrum along with the biceps tendon attachment.
  3. Type III: Detachment of the biceps tendon with a horizontal tear in the labrum.
  4. Type IV: Labral tear extending from the biceps attachment towards the front of the shoulder

How to diagnose SLAP lesions?

Diagnosis:

  1. Physical examination: Your doctor will check for pain, tenderness, and range of motion limitations.
  2. Imaging tests: X-rays might be used to rule out bone fractures, while MRIs provide detailed images of the soft tissues, including the labrum and biceps tendon.

Special test:

Here are some of the most common special tests for SLAP lesions:

  1. O’Brien’s test: This test is performed with the patient sitting or standing. The therapist places one hand on top of the patient’s shoulder and the other hand under the elbow. The therapist then applies downward pressure on the elbow while the patient resists by pushing upward. A positive test is pain with this maneuver.
  2. Speed’s test: This test is also performed with the patient sitting or standing. The therapist supports the patient’s arm at the elbow and asks the patient to flex the elbow to 90 degrees. The therapist then applies a quick, downward force on the forearm while the patient resists. A positive test is pain with this maneuver.
  3. Crank test: This test is performed with the patient lying on their back. The therapist positions the patient’s arm so that the elbow is bent at 90 degrees and the forearm is resting across the body. The therapist then applies a twisting motion to the arm while the patient resists. A positive test is pain with this maneuver.
  4. Yergason’s test: This test is performed with the patient lying on their side. The therapist positions the patient’s arm so that the elbow is bent at 90 degrees and the hand is resting on the head. The therapist then applies a downward force on the hand while the patient resists. A positive test is pain with this maneuver.

What are differential diagnosis for SLAP lesions?

Differential diagnosis:

There are several conditions that can mimic the symptoms of a SLAP lesion, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. Here are some of the most common differential diagnoses for SLAP lesions:

  1. Rotator cuff tears: Rotator cuff tears are tears in the tendons that attach the muscles of the rotator cuff to the humerus, the upper arm bone. They can cause similar symptoms to SLAP lesions, such as pain, weakness, and catching in the shoulder.
  2. Labral instability: Labral instability is a condition in which the labrum is loose or stretched, but not torn. It can cause pain and clicking in the shoulder.
  3. Biceps tendonitis: Biceps tendonitis is inflammation of the biceps tendon, which runs from the shoulder to the elbow. It can cause pain in the front of the shoulder.
  4. Acromioclavicular (AC) joint arthritis: The AC joint is the joint where the collarbone meets the shoulder blade. Arthritis in this joint can cause pain and tenderness on top of the shoulder.
  5. Cervical radiculopathy: Cervical radiculopathy is a condition in which a pinched nerve in the neck causes pain, numbness, and weakness in the shoulder and arm.

What is best Treatment for SLAP lesions?

Treatment:

Non-surgical:

For mild tears, conservative treatment often suffices. This includes rest, physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles, and anti-inflammatory medications.

Surgical:

In severe cases or when non-surgical methods fail, arthroscopic surgery is performed to repair the torn labrum and reattach the biceps tendon.

Physical therapy:

Physical therapy is a crucial component of treatment for SLAP lesions, both for non-surgical and post-surgical management. A physical therapist can design a personalized program to address your specific needs and help you regain full function and strength in your shoulder.

Role of physical therapy:

Here’s a general overview of what to expect in physical therapy for SLAP lesions:

Early stages (weeks 1-4):

  1. Pain management: This may include ice packs, heat therapy, electrical stimulation, and anti-inflammatory medications.
  2. Rest: You will likely need to avoid activities that aggravate your pain, such as overhead throwing or lifting heavy objects.
  3. Range of motion exercises: Gentle stretches and movements will help to improve your shoulder’s flexibility and prevent stiffness.
  4. Scapular stabilization exercises: These exercises will help to strengthen the muscles that support your shoulder blade, which is important for proper shoulder mechanics.

Mid stages (weeks 5-12):

  1. Progressive strengthening exercises: As your pain subsides, you will begin to gradually strengthen the muscles around your shoulder joint. This may include exercises with weights, resistance bands, or exercise machines.
  2. Proprioceptive exercises: These exercises help to improve your balance and coordination in your shoulder joint.
  3. Functional activities: You will begin to practice everyday activities that you had difficulty with due to your SLAP lesion, such as reaching overhead or lifting objects.

Later stages (weeks 12-20):

  1. Advanced strengthening exercises: You will continue to challenge your shoulder muscles with more advanced exercises.
  2. Sport-specific training: If you are an athlete, you will begin to work on sport-specific skills and drills to help you return to your sport safely.

What are common exercises for SLAP lesions?

Exercises:

Here are some general exercises that might be included in a rehabilitation program:

Pendulum exercises:

Pendulum exercises can be a helpful part of a rehabilitation program for a SLAP lesions, but it’s important to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have an injury. Here’s how to do pendulum exercises:

Standing Pendulum Exercises:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lean forward at your hips, letting your injured arm hang loosely down towards the floor.
  3. Gently swing your body back and forth, forward and backward, and side to side. Let your injured arm swing freely with your body movements.

Lying Pendulum Exercises:

  1. Lie on your stomach on a flat surface, such as a bed or exercise mat.
  2. Hang your injured arm off the edge of the surface, letting it relax towards the floor.
  3. Gently swing your upper body back and forth, forward and backward, allowing your injured arm to swing freely with your body movements.

Additional Tips:

  1. Do not use your injured arm muscles to move your arm. Let your body’s momentum swing your arm.
  2. Keep the movements small at first and gradually increase the range of motion as your pain improves.
  3. Do not push yourself to the point of pain.
  4. Stop if you feel any pain and consult with your doctor or physical therapist.

Codman’s exercises:

Codman’s exercises are a gentle form of exercise used to improve shoulder mobility and range of motion. They are often prescribed as part of a rehabilitation program for SLAP lesions, which are tears in the labrum, a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket.

Codman’s exercises are a safe and effective way to help people with SLAP lesions regain pain-free movement in their shoulder. They can be done at home with minimal equipment.

How to perform:

Here’s how to do Codman’s exercises:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend forward at your waist, resting your good hand on a table or chair for support.
  2. Let your injured arm hang loosely at your side.
  3. Gently swing your injured arm back and forth in small circles, using the momentum of your body to move your arm. Be sure to keep your shoulder muscles relaxed.
  4. You can also swing your arm in a forward and backward motion.
  5. Start with small circles and gradually increase the range of motion as your pain improves.
  6. Aim for 10-15 repetitions in each direction, and repeat 2-3 times per day.

Additional Tips:

Here are some additional tips for performing Codman’s exercises:

  1. Do not use any weights or resistance bands when performing these exercises.
  2. Stop if you feel any pain and consult with your doctor or physical therapist.
  3. Codman’s exercises are a good starting point for shoulder rehabilitation, but they may not be the only exercises you need to do. Your doctor or physical therapist will create a rehabilitation program that is specific to your needs.

Modification:

Here are some modifications you can make to Codman’s exercises:

  1. If you have difficulty bending forward, you can do these exercises while lying on your stomach on a bed or table. Let your injured arm hang off the edge of the bed or table and swing it back and forth.
  2. If you have any pain in your wrist or hand, you can wear a glove or place a towel under your hand for support.

Scapular retraction:

Scapular retraction can be a beneficial exercise for people with SLAP lesions (Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior lesions). These are tears in the labrum, a ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of your shoulder joint.

Scapular retraction helps to improve the position of your shoulder blade and can reduce pain caused by a SLAP lesion. It can also help to strengthen the muscles that support the shoulder joint, which can help to prevent future injuries.

Benefits:

Here are some of the benefits of scapular retraction for SLAP lesions:

  1. Improves scapular stability
  2. Reduces pain
  3. Improves shoulder function
  4. Helps prevent future injuries

Modification:

There are a number of different exercises that you can do to improve scapular retraction. Here are a few examples:

  1. Scapular retraction with wall slides: Stand facing a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your elbows bent to 90 degrees. Lean your forearms against the wall and gently press your shoulder blades back and down. Hold for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat 10 times.
  2. Scapular retraction with rows: You can do rows with dumbbells, a barbell, or a resistance band. Sit or stand with your back straight and core engaged. Row the weights or band towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement. Lower the weights or band slowly back down to the starting position. Repeat 10-12 times.

Isometric exercises:

Isometric exercises can be a helpful part of a rehabilitation program for a SLAP lesions, which is a tear in the labrum, the cartilage ring that surrounds the socket of your shoulder joint. Isometrics involve contracting your muscles without moving your joints. This can help to strengthen the muscles around your shoulder joint and improve stability without putting too much stress on the healing labrum.

Examples:

Here are a few examples of isometric exercises that can be helpful for SLAP lesions:

  1. Doorway press: Stand in a doorway and place your hands on either side of the frame at shoulder height. Lean into the doorway as if you are trying to push the walls apart. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then relax.
  2. Internal rotation with towel: Sit in a chair and hold a rolled-up towel behind your back. Squeeze the towel together with your hands as hard as you can. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then relax.
  3. External rotation with band: Loop a resistance band around a doorknob or other stable object. Grasp the end of the band with your hand and hold your arm out to the side at shoulder height. Rotate your forearm away from your body, squeezing the muscles in your back shoulder. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then relax.

Be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have a SLAP lesion. They can help you create a safe and effective exercise plan that is right for you.

Additional Tips:

Here are some additional tips for performing isometric exercises safely and effectively:

  1. Focus on quality over quantity. It is more important to perform the exercises correctly with good form than to do a lot of repetitions with poor form.
  2. Breathe normally throughout the exercise.
  3. Do not hold your breath.
  4. Stop if you feel any pain.
  5. Gradually increase the intensity of your isometric exercises as you get stronger.

External rotation with resistance band:

External rotation with a resistance band can be a useful exercise for rehabilitation after a SLAP lesions, but it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have an injury. They can assess your individual condition and design a safe and effective rehab plan for you.

Variations:

Here’s a variation of how you can perform external rotation with a resistance band:

  1. Secure the band: Anchor a resistance band around a sturdy object at about shoulder height. You can use a door knob, a squat rack, or a pole in a gym.
  2. Position yourself: Stand sideways to the anchor point with the injured shoulder farthest from the anchor.
  3. Loop the band: Loop the free end of the resistance band around your forearm, just above your wrist.
  4. Rotate your arm: Keeping your elbow tucked into your side and your upper arm still, rotate your forearm outward as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for a second, then slowly return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat: Perform 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets. Be sure to choose a resistance band that is challenging but allows you to maintain proper form throughout the exercise.

Important tips:

Here are some other important tips to keep in mind when performing external rotation with a resistance band for a SLAP lesions:

  1. Focus on slow and controlled movements. Don’t jerk or swing your arm.
  2. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise.
  3. Avoid any pain during the exercise. If you feel pain, stop the exercise and consult with your healthcare professional.
  4. As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the resistance of the band.
  5. There are other variations of this exercise you can perform, such as external rotation with elbow bent at 90 degrees or external rotation with diagonal pull.

Internal rotation with resistance band:

Similar to external rotation, but pulling inward to work the opposing muscles.

Internal rotation with a resistance band can be a helpful exercise for rehabilitation after a SLAP lesions, but it’s important to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have an injury. They can assess your individual situation and create a safe and effective rehab plan for you.

How to perform:

Here’s how to perform internal rotation with a resistance band:

  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Loop a resistance band around a doorknob or other sturdy object at elbow height.
  3. Grasp the other end of the band with your injured hand, and hold your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle by your side.
  4. Slowly rotate your forearm inward, bringing your hand towards your stomach as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for a second, then slowly return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions, then switch sides.

Scaption exercises:

Scapular exercises are a crucial part of rehabilitation for SLAP lesions, which affect the labrum, a ring of cartilage in the shoulder joint. These exercises help improve stability and motion in the shoulder blade (scapula), which can take pressure off the labrum and promote healing.

Examples:

Here are a few examples of scapular exercises for SLAP lesions:

Scapular retraction:

  1. Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and down.
  2. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and back, as if pinching a pencil between them.
  3. Hold for a second, then relax.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times.

Scapular protraction:

  1. Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and down.
  2. Gently push your shoulder blades forward, away from your spine.
  3. Hold for a second, then relax.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times.

Wall slide:

  1. Stand tall with your back against a wall.
  2. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and place your forearms on the wall.
  3. Slowly slide your arms up the wall, keeping your elbows and forearms in contact with the wall.
  4. Slide as high as you can comfortably go, then slowly slide back down.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.

Prone row:

  1. Lie on your stomach on a bench or exercise mat.
  2. Position yourself under a barbell or dumbbells so that your arms are hanging straight down below the bench.
  3. Row your elbows back, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  4. Lower the weights back down in a controlled motion.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.

Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the difficulty of these exercises as your pain improves. It is important to consult with a physical therapist to learn the proper form for these exercises and to create a rehabilitation program that is right for you.

Rows:

Rows can be a great exercise for strengthening the muscles around the shoulder joint, which can be helpful in rehabilitation after a SLAP lesions. However, it’s important to choose the right type of row and perform it with proper form to avoid further irritating the injury.

Modification:

Here are two modifications of rows that are generally safe and effective for SLAP lesions:

Seated cable rows:

  1. Sit on a cable row machine with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Grasp the handles with a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
  3. Keeping your core engaged and back straight, lean back slightly from the machine.
  4. Pull the handles towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  5. Slowly release the handles back to the starting position.

Supported rows:

  1. You can perform supported rows on a stability ball, exercise bench, or even a sturdy table.
  2. Place your hands on the surface shoulder-width apart, slightly wider than your shoulders.
  3. Keeping your back straight and core engaged, lower your chest towards the surface.
  4. Row yourself back up to the starting position by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  5. It is important to start with a light weight or resistance band and focus on proper form. As your strength improves, you can gradually increase the weight or resistance.

Additional Tips:

Here are some additional tips for performing rows with a SLAP lesions:

  1. Avoid using a wide grip, which can put more stress on the shoulder joint.
  2. Do not arch your back or allow your shoulders to round forward during the exercise.
  3. Keep your elbows close to your sides throughout the movement.
  4. Stop the exercise if you feel any pain in your shoulder.

Conclusion:

In summary, a SLAP lesions is a specific type of shoulder injury affecting the labrum, often resulting from trauma, overuse, or degenerative changes. Understanding the anatomy, causes, and symptoms of SLAP lesions is crucial for prompt diagnosis and effective management. Treatment options range from conservative measures to surgical intervention, with rehabilitation playing a vital role in the recovery process. By incorporating preventive measures and maintaining shoulder health, individuals can reduce the risk of developing SLAP lesions and enjoy an active, pain-free lifestyle.

FAQ’s :

When can I start PT after SLAP repair?

You should not start PT without consulting your doctor who performed the SLAP repair surgery. That being said, here’s a general guideline:

  1. Weeks 0-3: Your shoulder will likely be immobilized in a sling to promote healing. You will be focusing on pain management and gentle passive motion exercises.
  2. Weeks 4-6: You can start gentle active-assisted exercises to improve range of motion. Light isometric strengthening exercises may also be introduced.
  3. Weeks 6-12: You will gradually progress to more advanced strengthening exercises, including rotator cuff and scapular strengthening. Proprioceptive exercises may also be introduced to improve balance and coordination.

Can you fully recover from a SLAP tear?

Yes, with proper treatment, you can fully recover from a SLAP tear. Recovery time varies depending on the severity of the tear and whether surgery is required.

  1. Non-surgical treatment for SLAP tears typically involves rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy. Physical therapy focuses on restoring range of motion, strength, and stability to the shoulder.
  2. Surgical treatment may be necessary for more severe tears. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that allows the surgeon to repair the labrum.
  3. Recovery from SLAP tear surgery typically takes 4-6 months. During this time, you will likely need to wear a sling and participate in physical therapy.

How to sleep with a SLAP tear?

A SLAP tear in your shoulder can definitely disrupt a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips to help you get some rest:

Sleeping position: Avoid sleeping directly on the injured shoulder. The best positions are typically on your back or your unaffected side.

  1. On your back: Prop the injured arm up on a pillow to keep it elevated and supported.
  2. On your side: Use a body pillow or another pillow between your knees to help keep your spine aligned and reduce pressure on the shoulder.

Support:  A comfortable mattress that keeps your spine aligned is key. You can also consider using a wedge pillow to keep your upper body slightly elevated.

 

+ posts

1 thought on “Does SLAP lesions are treatable by physical therapy?”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *