Nobody likes wearing a sling. However, it must be used to control the motion of your arm. The sling keeps you from actively contracting the muscles around your shoulder, which protects you and your surgical repair. When the sling is off, you are more likely to instinctively reach or raise the arm without thinking, and this can reinjure the shoulder.
This is the correct way to wear a sling. Make sure your arm is parallel with the ground and that your elbow is in the elbow of the fabric. Most slings also have a “thumb loop” to support the hand. You may need to adjust the sling several times each day.
- If seated for over 30 minutes: It is okay to take your arm out of the sling and let it rest in your lap.
- You can take off the sling in the shower: Remove the sling before a shower. You can shower with your arm on your side.
- If the sling is too loose: If the sling is too loose, it won’t keep your arm in place. This may cause unnecessary stress and strain on the arm. Make sure the sling supports your arm and forearm and be sure your elbow is kept at a 90-degree angle (see photo below). If your elbow is too straight, the sling might be too loose.
- After a fracture: It is important after a fracture to immobilize your arm to ensure that the bones heal properly. The sling keeps your arm still and in place to be sure this occurs.
- After shoulder surgery: You may need a sling to prevent the muscles around your shoulder from contracting too hard and disrupting the healing process. A forceful contraction of your muscles can tear the repaired muscle. The sling prevents this from occurring.