How to Use a Sling After Shoulder Surgery

bad pain in shoulder of senior man

A shoulder sling is designed to support and immobilize the arm after shoulder surgery. Keeping the arm stable allows the incision and the area of repair to heal and prevents further injury to the area. Shoulder slings have straps that go around your neck, or opposite shoulder, and one that goes around your torso to secure your arm to your body. Your doctor may prescribe the sling for you, or you can purchase a sling from a drug store or orthopaedic supply store.

Loop the straps of the sling over your opposite shoulder. The longer strap should go behind your back and the shorter strap should cross your front.

Tie a loose knot in the straps and adjust the length of the straps until the pouch of the sling hangs at an angle at waist level. The pocket end should be slightly lower than the opening.

Slip the elbow of your affected shoulder as far as it will go into the pocket of the pouch. Your hand should be slightly higher than your elbow.

Adjust the neck pad to a comfortable position on your opposite shoulder, if the sling comes with a neck pad.

Tie the waist strap around your waist to secure your arm to your body.


Remove the sling when bathing and avoid moving the affected arm as much as possible. Wash the sling as needed and keep a second sling on hand to wear while the other sling dries.