• Using a Shoulder Sling

    by Dr. J. Michael Bennett
    on Jul 23rd, 2012

Call us at 281-633-8600.  In this article and video, Dr. J. Michael Bennett demonstrates how to use a sling after shoulder surgery — how to put it on and take it off and some simple exercises  to do, with your doctor’s guidance.  Doctor Bennett serves patients from all over Houston and Texas from our clinics in Sugar Land and in Houston, near the Houston Galleria.

These are exercises demonstrated by Shoulder Specialist, Dr. J. Michael Bennett, a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship Trained Sports Medicine Physician.  We accept Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare and most other medical insurance plans.

This information is for educational purposes only.  It’s not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  You should not start an exercise program or act upon any information provided here without first seeking medical advice from a physician.

Here’s a transcript of the video:

ey guys, this is J. Michael Bennett here, and I’m over at Plex which is an excellent physical therapy facility where they do sports performance and sports specific training and I’m just here to show you some basic exercises on what to do after surgery.  Primarily this is geared towards my patients who have had shoulder surgery.  I just want to show you your sling, how to put it on, how to put it off and really what you should be doing.

Now once again every surgeon is different regarding their own post-operative course regarding rehabilitation so it’s very important that you follow what works for your surgeon.  You do not want to go outside their specific directions but in most cases this is what I use for my patients in regards to any kind of shoulder surgery and also in addition will show you some exercises for instability as well for the shoulder.  I’ll go ahead and start by showing you the sling, how to put it on, put it off, and then we’ll go from there.

This here is a standard abduction pillow, right here; it fits in the side, in addition to the sling.  I like these slings primarily because they breathe a little bit better than some other slings that are out there.  They’re pretty snug.

As far as putting these on, really you start by putting your abduction pillow on first, and it’s an easy thing; once it’s sized it should just snap on pretty easily.  And this frees up the other arm here to just slide in to the sling itself.  Obviously you’re going to need somebody to help you initially if you’ve had surgery before you put this sling on because there are a number of different parts but once it’s sized it should fit you pretty well.

How often you need to wear this will depend on the type of surgery you had.  With most rotator cuffs surgeries, you’re going to be in the sling for at least a couple of weeks.  As far as exercises you can do in the sling, what I encourage a lot of patients to do is there’s a ball here that comes out and you can do squeezing exercises, working on grip strength, while you are in your sling.  The type of tear you had, if it’s a rotator cuff or whether or not the biceps was involved, will determine whether or not you can actually fire your biceps because a lot of times that biceps tendon has been repaired and they don’t want you to fire it.  But if you can, and you’re allowed to by your surgeon, you can un-strap your sling there and just kind of gently move your elbow.  You’re still keeping your pillow by your side and using this to support your elbow, but you can do some passive motion exercises with the elbow.  And like I’ve said before, if you’ve had biceps surgery, you want to make sure you check with your surgeon first to see if this is allowable.  Because the last thing we want to do is fire the biceps and end up stressing the repair here.  So you don’t want to do that if you had any surgery to the biceps.  If it’s just a straight rotator cuff, only the rotator cuff tendon was involved, passive motion of the elbow – even active motion of the elbow – is allowed.

In addition, you can rotate the wrist backwards and forwards, open and close the hand, and that’s really it for the first few weeks.  This shoulder is really for all intents and purposes supposed to stay in the sling day and night.  Just make sure you wear this at all times, initially for the first few weeks until you start your program of physical therapy with your surgeon.

When you take off this shoulder sling, really it’s just a matter of unsnapping those clips here and then the sling’s off and you slide your arm out of it.

If you have any questions about how to use your shoulder sling, please call our office at 281-633-8600 for an appointment with Dr. Bennett.

Author Dr. J. Michael Bennett

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