Conservative treatment of SLAP tears may be preferable for some baseball players

July 16, 2012

Topic: shoulder pain

Conservative treatment of SLAP tears may be preferable for some baseball players.

One potential cause of shoulder pain among baseball players is a superior labral tear, or SLAP tear. These injuries may be treated with or without surgery. However, a recent study presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Annual Meeting suggests that non-surgical treatment of SLAP tears in some baseball players may increase their chances of returning to play.

This conclusion is based on a study of 119 professional baseball players who were benched because of shoulder pain. Sixty-eight of these players, 45 of whom were pitchers had SLAP tears and failed an initial round of physical therapy.

Results suggested that conservative treatment of SLAP tears were more successful than surgery in helping players return to competition.

"Returning to the same level of competition as before the injury, is almost always difficult for an athlete, and surgery is often thought of as the best avenue. With additional research, orthopaedists are finding different routes to treat some of the most common throwing injuries," said researcher David Lintner, M.D.

Other results indicated that while 73 percent of position players were able to return to competition, the same was true for only 40 percent of pitchers. More research is needed to determine why non-surgical treatment for position players is more successful.

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