There are many kinds of braces used for shoulder and elbow injuries and surgeries. The goal of wearing a sling or brace is to immobilize the arm as comfortably as possible. While wearing a sling or brace may not always be completely comfortable or stylish, it helps support the healing process, may reduce the time for healing, and prevents further injury.
A sling or brace may need to be worn for a few days or up to six weeks after surgery, depending on the injury or surgical procedure. Dr. Romeo believe in the principles of early protected motion so he will provide all surgical patients with specific instructions so they know how long they will need to use a sling or brace and how to wear it properly.
If you have a sling or brace prescribed as part of your treatment, it’s important to wear it continuously until adequate healing has happened. There have been instances where patients have removed their brace to sleep or for other reasons and have accidentally re-injured themselves, requiring further surgery.
Types of Slings and Braces
A cloth sling is used after a shoulder fracture to immobilize the arm, support the weight of arm from pulling at the fracture site, and promote healing.
Shoulder Sling with a body pillow and immobilization strap (Sling Shot or Ultrasling)
This kind of sling is used when protecting the motion of the shoulder is critical to the overall result, such as after a rotator cuff repair or shoulder replacement. A pillow rests between the chest and forearm, creating space between them. The sling holds the shoulder in a steady position, while a belt strap prevents any accidental movement of the arm.
This brace is sometimes called a Gunslinger, or a hand/elbow orthosis. It is sometimes used after scapula (shoulder blade) surgery, an AC joint repair, or a fusion. It is made of a plastic shell that sits on the hip. It has straps that wrap around the patient’s waste and a metal rod that keeps the arm elevated away from the body. This brace allows a more secure immobilization of the shoulder joint area and provides support against the downward pull of gravity, which can affect the ability for the surgery to be effective.
A soft brace is used after elbow injuries or surgeries.
Hinged Elbow Brace
A hinged elbow brace is used after an elbow dislocation or after elbow ligament surgery, such as the Tommy John surgery (reconstruction or repair of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament of the Elbow). It is made of hard metal and extends down to the forearm. It has a hinge in the middle so the amount of movement can be modified during the recovery process.
Sarmiento Fracture Brace
A Sarmiento fracture brace is used after a fracture of the upper arm (humerus) or complex shoulder fracture. It is made of a plastic shell and worn over the shoulder and down the arm with Velcro straps holding things snugly together to help keep the fracture aligned during healing.
For more information about slings and braces for shoulder and elbow conditions, please request an appointment with experienced Chicago orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Romeo. Call our office today to schedule your visit.
Anthony Romeo, MD
Dr. Anthony Romeo is one of the nation’s leading orthopaedic surgeons specializing in the management and surgical treatment of shoulder and elbow conditions. His state-of-the-art practice employs minimally-invasive arthroscopic techniques to accelerate the recovery process for a range of challenging conditions.