MRI & SLAP Lesions

Following on from the last few posts about MRI and shoulder abnormalities (here and here), SLAP lesions or tears have been found to be another normal age-related change.

In the study below, 72% of the study group (aged 45-60 years old) were found to have SLAP tears. And just as in the previous studies, these were people who were asymptomatic and therefore not experiencing pain or any other dysfunction.

The reason this needs highlighting so much is that we need to realise that so many of the so called abnormalities that are found during scans, are often normal age-related changes. MRI cannot and should not be used alone to explain why someone has pain or dysfunction in their shoulder. After all, these people in the study had SLAP lesions but did not even know about it.

It also means that when someone identifies as having a SLAP lesion then this again does not mean that surgery is necessary. Everyone is different.

Sometimes the finding we see on scans can be likened to wrinkles…but on the inside. They are normal and happen to pretty much everyone.

1. SLAP is an acronym for Superior Labral tear from Anterior to Posteior
2. The labrum is the cup-shaped rim of cartilage that lines and reinforces the ball and socket joint of the shoulder.
3. Asymptomatic means that there are no symptoms including pain or dysfunction

Image: Complete Anatomy 19


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