Sling and Swathe

Sling and swathe is used to support your arm and hold it closely against your body after an injury. It is used for injuries where moving the shoulder joint could cause harm. For example, it would be used after a shoulder dislocation or shoulder fracture.

A joint that is kept still for too long can become stiff and lose range of motion. Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. Don’t use the sling longer than directed.

Home care

  • Leave the sling and swathe in place as long as directed by your healthcare provider. Unless told otherwise, you should sleep with it in place.

  • If you are being treated for a shoulder dislocation, you may take the sling and swathe off to bathe or dress. Don't try to raise your arm away from your body. Put it back on as soon as possible.

  • Your healthcare provider may recommend gentle pendulum exercises. Stand or sit with your arm vertical and close to your side. Relax your shoulder muscles and gently swing the arm forward and back, side to side, and in small circles for about 5 minutes. Do this once or twice a day. There should be only slight pain with this exercise.

  • If you are being treated for a shoulder fracture, leave the sling and swathe in place until your next exam.

  • The sling and swathe is adjustable. If it becomes loose, adjust the sling so that your forearm is level with the ground. Your hand should be level with the elbow. Adjust the part that wraps around your body, called swathe, so that your arm is held snugly against your body.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • New or worsening symptoms

  • You have questions about adjusting the sling and swathe

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