Living with a Shoulder Sling

The use of a sling is unavoidable after most shoulder surgery. Mr Patel will tell you exaclty how long you will have to wear the sling for after the surgery, but rough estimates can be made at your consultation.

The sling allows your shoulder to be immobilised in a comfortable, neutral position that is optimum for tissue to heal and for inflammation to settle.

Different procedures require different movement restrictions which Mr Patel and your physiotherapist will instruct you on.Good compliance with the sling will optimise your outcome!


This should be done with assistance and in unhurried manner, so as not to jar or suddenly move the shoulder. The helper should lift your arm away from your side (passive movement) to avoid you using your muscles. Keep all wounds as dry as possible; even of they are covered by waterproof dressings. Towels wrapped in plastic bags make effective wedges if you are having a shower.


Sleeping on your back or on the un-operated side is most comfortable. A Pillow placed under the elbow of the operated arm when lying on your back is usually helpful. When sleeping on your side use one pillow for under your neck and place a pillow behind you tucked under your back helps prevent you from rolling over onto the operated side.

General advice

Most activities such as getting dressed or eating will need to be performed using your un-operated arm. It is worthwhile thinking of your daily routine and things you will need to be in easy reach before the operation and putting them in easy to reach places. It is always easier to have someone help you with cooking etc. if you can. Do not be tempted to lift anything with your operated arm until Mr Patel has cleared you to do so, e.g. kettle, shopping.

Sling types

There are many slings available. Most shoulder slings now have a wedge between your body and forearm and these are entirely appropriate for most shoulder surgery. Please use the links section to visit the websites of some popular brands. Indications for use by type of surgery is available information on the manufacturers website.