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How to Sleep With a Medical Shoulder Sling On

Updated August 13, 2017

Slings are used to immobilise the shoulder after injury or surgery. They're typically used short-term; however, after major surgery (a rotator-cuff repair, for example), a sling may be required for several weeks. Initially, the sling is worn full-time, which includes nighttime. A semi-upright position is ideal for comfort and will prevent you from accidentally sleeping on the injured side. This position can be achieved by sleeping in a recliner or by arranging multiple pillows on your bed.

Place several pillows at the head of your bed. Create a wedge-shaped support by placing two pillows on top of each other at the top and another pillow at the base of them. Use one or two pillows in a recliner to support your head and back.

Place a pillow lengthwise on each side of the recliner or position them where your arms will rest on the bed.

Position yourself in the chair or on the bed. Adjust the pillows behind your head and back until you're in a supported semi-upright position. Place a pillow under your knees to decrease pressure on your back. Put the recliner in its fully reclined position.

Use your uninjured hand to gently lift the elbow of the injured arm and place it on the pillow next to your body.

Things You'll Need

  • Five or six pillows
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About the Author

Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.