A SLAP lesion is a tear of the labrum or cartilage disc that encircles the “socket” of the shoulder. A tear can occur as a result of a single traumatic event. More commonly, though, a tear occurs as a result of chronic repetitive stress associated with an overhead sport such as pitching. A tear can lead to mechanical symptoms (popping, snapping) or it can lead to instability, where the shoulder is loose.
SLAP lesions are very much over-diagnosed and over-treated.
If you have pain at rest or at night, or pain with simple motions and stiffness, your pain is most likely NOT caused by a SLAP lesion.Many, many, many people have labral tears simply as a result of aging and use. These are painless in most cases, and usually do not require treatment.
SLAP lesions are important diagnostic considerations in younger patients with instability and difficulty throwing, pitching, slamming a volleyball, or similar activity. IF you are a young overhead athlete A SLAP lesion may be responsible for your symptoms. If therapy and other non-operative treatments fail, then surgical repair should be considered.
For more information, visit a comprehensive labral tear discussion here.
For a short video discussion on labral tears