Objective: To present recommendations for the diagnosis, management, outcomes, and return to play of athletes with superior labral anterior-posterior (SLAP) injuries.

Background: In overhead athletes, SLAP tears are common as either acute or chronic injuries. The clinical guidelines presented here were developed based on a systematic review of the current evidence and the consensus of the writing panel. Clinicians can use these guidelines to inform decision making regarding the diagnosis, acute and long-term conservative and surgical treatment, and expected outcomes of and return-to-play guidelines for athletes with SLAP injuries.

Recommendations: Physical examination tests may aid diagnosis; 6 tests are recommended for confirming and 1 test is recommended for ruling out a SLAP lesion. Combinations of tests may be helpful to diagnose SLAP lesions. Clinical trials directly comparing outcomes between surgical and nonoperative management are absent; however, in cohort trials, the reports of function and return-to-sport outcomes are similar for each management approach. Nonoperative management that includes rehabilitation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroid injections is recommended as the first line of treatment. Rehabilitation should address deficits in shoulder internal rotation, total arc of motion, and horizontal-adduction motion, as well as periscapular and glenohumeral muscle strength, endurance, and neuromuscular control. Most researchers have examined the outcomes of surgical management and found high levels of satisfaction and return of shoulder function, but the ability to return to sport varied widely, with 20% to 94% of patients returning to their sport after surgical or nonoperative management. On average, 55% of athletes returned to full participation in prior sports, but overhead athletes had a lower average return of 45%. Additional work is needed to define the criteria for diagnosing and guiding clinical decision making to optimize outcomes and return to play.

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Published in Journal of Athletic Training, v. 53, no. 3, p. 209-229.

© by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Inc.

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

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