Shoulder and arm injuries a relatively common occurrence – hundreds of thousands of Americans every year require surgery for rotator cuff or other injuries.
And an integral part of the healing process involves wearing a shoulder sling which helps to restrict movement and protect the shoulder from re-injury.
However, many people aren’t clear about how to wear a sling or when a sling for shoulder injuries is required.
So, to put all these questions to bed, let’s go through everything you need to know about shoulder slings including how to put on an arm sling, how to wear an arm sling, and the common mistakes to avoid.
Common Injuries That Require an Arm Sling
If you’re having shoulder surgery, you will need to figure out how to wear a sling because otherwise, you will put your shoulder at high risk of becoming injured again.
But what types of injuries require to wear a sling in the first place?
Well, there are a few of the most common types of surgeries that require them. While a sling may seem uncomfortable, it’s absolutely essential in a few situations that require healing to take place in a completely fixed shoulder position.
One of the most common uses for slings is after a fracture. If you fracture your shoulder, your elbow, or even your wrist, your doctor is likely to insist on you wearing a broken shoulder sling to immobilize your hand and allow the bones to heal properly.
Another common situation that requires a sling is shoulder surgery. Since the shoulder muscles will be very delicate after the surgery, you will need to use shoulder surgery slings to minimize the movements and ensure that a sudden contraction of the muscles doesn’t undo the work that was done.
For instance, if you’ve had rotator cuff surgery, wearing a rotator cuff sling is absolutely essential, as the rotator cuff needs time to heal and become strong enough to withstand movements.
Finally, one of the lesser-known reasons for wearing an arm sling is after a stroke. Since a stroke can sometimes cause paralysis of your limbs, allowing them to hang can become painful, which is why a sling can be useful to stabilize the arm and ensure that it doesn’t suffer damage.
How to Wear an Arm Sling
In order to make sure that the sling serves its purpose and keeps your arm and shoulder protected, it’s essential to figure out how to wear a sling in a safe and comfortable way.
If you put on your sling incorrectly, the blood flow in your arm can get disrupted, and fluids may start building up if you are recovering after surgery.
Luckily, putting on shoulder surgery slings doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated if you know a few simple steps to follow.
First, pull the sling for shoulder pain over your arm and elbow, allowing it to fit comfortably around your arm. If you put it on correctly, you should see your hand coming out at the end of the sling and hanging freely.
However, you must ensure that the sling doesn’t cut into your wrist, as that can cause pain when wearing the sling for extended periods.
Once you secure the sling for shoulder injury on your arm, you should grab the strap behind your elbow and pull it around your neck, feeding it through the loop near your hand.
Then, tighten the straps in a way that position your hand above your elbow, and fasten it with the Velcro straps that should be available.
The critical thing to remember when putting on your arm sling for shoulder pain is that it should feel comfortable without being loose, but at the same time not be too tight to constrict blood flow.
You will likely need to wear the sling for extended periods, so you must find a position that feels comfortable.
To ensure that you’re wearing the sling correctly, there are a few mistakes that you should avoid when putting it on.
First off, make sure that the sling is not too loose, as it needs to be able to provide enough support for your shoulder or elbow at all times, even when you are walking or moving. If your shoulder is wiggly and unstable during movements, even a slight turn could re-injure your shoulder or elbow and cause serious damage that might need to be fixed with another surgery.
However, even though a loose shoulder sling isn’t good, that doesn’t mean that you should tighten it up as much as possible either.
An arm sling for shoulder that’s too tight can restrict blood flow, impede the healing process, and even cause further damage to your shoulder or elbow, so make sure that your arm is firmly locked in the sling but isn’t too constricted and still feels comfortable resting there for hours at a time.
Finally, you must consider the height at which your hand is hanging – you should try to position your elbow at a 90-degree angle and ensure that it’s not hanging too low, as that can cause severe strain on your shoulder muscles.
You will be moving a lot throughout the day, and even simple tasks like going for a walk can become very strenuous if your arm is hanging too low and straining your shoulder with every step or movement.
When recovering after shoulder or elbow surgery, it’s essential to be extra cautious about protecting your arm to allow it to heal correctly. Your shoulder or elbow can be very vulnerable after surgery, so a properly-fitted sling is the only way to ensure that it remains protected and has time to heal.
Dr. Schwartz at ShoulderMD can help you figure out the best treatment and recovery plan for your shoulder or elbow injury. You can call 206-860-5578 to schedule an appointment at a time that’s convenient for you.