Sling Use After Injury or Surgery

ExitCare ImageYou have been put in a sling today because of an injury or following surgery. If you have a tendon or bone injury it may take up to 6 weeks to heal. Use the sling as directed until your caregiver says it is no longer needed. The sling protects and keeps you from using the injured part. Hanging your arm in a sling will give rest and support to the injured part. This also helps with comfort and healing. Slings are used for injuries made worse or more painful by movement. Examples include:

The sling should fit comfortably, with your elbow at one end of the sling and your hand at the other end. Your elbow is bent 90 degrees lying across your waist and rests in the sling with your thumb pointing up. Make sure that the hand of the injured arm does not droop down. That could stretch some nerves in the wrist. Your hand should be slightly higher than your elbow. You may also pad the sling behind your neck with some cloth or foam rubber.

A swathe may also be used if it is necessary to keep you from lifting your injured arm. A swathe is a wrap or ace bandage that goes around your chest over your injured arm.

To take the weight off your neck, some slings have a strap that goes around your neck and down your back. One strap is connected to the closed elbow side of the sling with the other end of the strap attached to the wrist side. With a sling like this, your injured shoulder, arm, wrist, or hand is in the sling, the weight is more on your shoulder and back. This is different from the illustration where the sling is supported only by the neck.

In an emergency, a sling can be as simple as a belt or towel tied around your neck to hold your forearm.