Understanding and Treating SLAP Lesions

SLAP lesions are a common shoulder injury that can impact anyone, from young athletes to the elderly. A SLAP (Superior Labral Anterior and Posterior) lesion is an injury to the labrum, the ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket. It’s a condition that can cause pain, limit your range of motion, and even affect your day-to-day activities.

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What is a SLAP lesion?

A Superior Labral Anterior and Posterior (SLAP) lesion is an injury to the labrum, the cuff of cartilage that forms a cup for the arm bone to move within, enhancing shoulder stability. This injury often arises from repetitive motions that strain the biceps tendon or acute traumas such as a shoulder dislocation or a fall with the arm extended. Over time, wear and tear in the superior labrum can also lead to SLAP lesions, particularly in individuals over 40 years old.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Patients with a SLAP lesion may experience pain during movement, limited range of motion, frequent dislocation, and a catching sensation in the shoulder. The diagnosis of SLAP lesions typically involves a detailed medical history, a physical examination, and imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans.

There are several variations of SLAP lesions, each potentially requiring a specific treatment. Some may only cause mild pain that patients can manage conservatively if they prefer not to have surgery. For more severe cases, surgery is typically the most effective treatment.

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What is the SLAP repair procedure?

SLAP repair surgery is an outpatient procedure that typically takes about 90 minutes. General anesthesia is administered, and in some cases, a nerve block is used. The surgery can often be performed arthroscopically through small incisions where a camera and tiny surgical instruments are inserted.

The repair method depends on the visible damage to the labrum and may involve:

  • Debridement of fraying tissue to prevent a tear
  • Securing the loose labrum to the joint’s cup
  • Repair or removal of the torn labrum tissue
  • Removal of the labral tear and repair of the biceps tendon

Am I a candidate for SLAP repair surgery?

Candidates for SLAP repair surgery are typically those with SLAP lesions causing severe pain. If conservative treatment methods are ineffective or if the patient’s quality of life is significantly impacted, surgery may be recommended.

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What is the recovery from SLAP repair?

Post-surgery, patients may experience mild pain and swelling, which can be managed with prescription medication and ice application.

To protect the arm during the initial healing phase, a sling will be worn for two to four weeks. Adherence to the doctor’s instructions on sling usage is crucial for successful recovery.

Physical therapy may be required for several months after surgery to ensure proper joint healing. It can effectively improve flexibility and regain strength in the affected shoulder. Returning to sedentary jobs may be possible after a few weeks, depending on the severity of the damage and the progress of individual recovery. Active pursuits like sports can typically be resumed within four to eight months.

Are there risks associated with SLAP repair?

While SLAP repair is generally safe with a low complication rate, as with any surgery, there are potential risks. These may include infection, blood clot formation, bleeding, shoulder stiffness, and nerve or blood vessel injury.

Why Choose NY Sports & Joints Orthopaedic Specialists for Your SLAP Repair?

At NY Sports & Joints, we understand that choosing a healthcare provider is a significant decision. We believe our team’s exceptional qualifications and commitment to patient care make us an excellent choice for your SLAP repair. Our team is comprised of highly trained surgeons who have studied at some of the world’s top-tier schools, including Princeton, Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, and Columbia. All of our surgeons are board-certified specialists, demonstrating their commitment to the highest standards of patient care and medical knowledge. Furthermore, they’re fellowship-trained, meaning they’ve undertaken additional specialized training in their respective fields, enhancing their ability to treat complex conditions like SLAP lesions.

Our team is part of a multi-disciplinary collective with a single focus: restoring you to health. We bring together surgeons with subspecialty expertise in sports medicine, trauma, hand and wrist, foot and ankle, and joint replacements. This collaborative approach allows us to create a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs.

Choose NY Sports & Joints Orthopaedic Specialists for your SLAP repair - where exceptional training, patient satisfaction, and innovative techniques come together to provide you with the highest standard of care.

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