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How to Wear a Sling for a Broken Clavicle

When you break your clavicle, also known as your collarbone, it can be a painful and frustrating experience. One of the most common treatments for a broken clavicle is wearing a sling. A sling helps to immobilize the arm and shoulder, allowing the bone to heal properly. However, wearing a sling can be uncomfortable and challenging if you don’t know how to do it correctly. In this article, we will discuss the steps and techniques for wearing a sling for a broken clavicle, as well as provide tips for managing pain and discomfort during the healing process.

1. Understanding the Importance of a Sling

Before we dive into the specifics of how to wear a sling, it’s important to understand why it is necessary. When you break your clavicle, the bone needs time to heal. By wearing a sling, you are providing support and immobilization to the affected area, which helps to prevent further injury and promote healing. The sling helps to keep your arm and shoulder in the correct position, reducing strain on the broken bone and allowing it to mend properly.

Research has shown that wearing a sling for a broken clavicle can significantly improve the healing process. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma found that patients who wore a sling for six weeks had better outcomes in terms of pain relief and functional recovery compared to those who did not use a sling.

2. Choosing the Right Type of Sling

There are several types of slings available for treating a broken clavicle, and it’s important to choose the right one for your specific needs. The type of sling you need will depend on the severity of your injury and your doctor’s recommendations. Here are some common types of slings:

  • Shoulder Immobilizer Sling: This type of sling is designed to immobilize the shoulder and arm completely. It is often used for more severe clavicle fractures or after surgery.
  • Arm Sling: An arm sling is a simpler type of sling that supports the forearm and wrist while allowing some movement of the shoulder. It is commonly used for less severe clavicle fractures.
  • Figure-of-Eight Sling: This type of sling is shaped like a figure-eight and provides support to the shoulder and arm. It is often used for midshaft clavicle fractures.

Consult with your doctor or orthopedic specialist to determine the best type of sling for your specific injury.

3. Putting on the Sling

Once you have chosen the appropriate type of sling, it’s time to put it on. Follow these steps to ensure you are wearing the sling correctly:

  1. Start by loosening any straps or Velcro on the sling.
  2. Place your injured arm into the sling, making sure your elbow is at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Adjust the straps or Velcro to secure the sling comfortably around your neck and shoulder.
  4. Make sure the sling is snug but not too tight. You should be able to move your fingers and feel some movement in your shoulder.
  5. Check that your forearm is supported by the sling and your hand is resting comfortably.

It’s important to note that everyone’s injury and body shape are different, so you may need to make some adjustments to the sling to ensure a proper fit. If you are unsure about how to put on the sling correctly, consult with your doctor or a healthcare professional.

4. Managing Pain and Discomfort

Wearing a sling for a broken clavicle can be uncomfortable, especially in the first few days after the injury. Here are some tips for managing pain and discomfort:

  • Take pain medication as prescribed by your doctor. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Apply ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. This can help reduce swelling and numb the area.
  • Elevate your arm and shoulder to reduce swelling. Prop pillows or cushions under your arm while sitting or lying down.
  • Avoid activities that cause pain or discomfort. Rest is crucial for the healing process.
  • Follow any additional instructions provided by your doctor or physical therapist.

If you experience severe or worsening pain, or if you notice any changes in your symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

5. Caring for Your Sling

Proper care of your sling is essential to ensure comfort and hygiene during the healing process. Here are some tips for caring for your sling:

  • Regularly clean your sling according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This may involve hand washing or machine washing, depending on the material.
  • Avoid getting your sling wet unless it is specifically designed to be waterproof. Moisture can cause discomfort and skin irritation.
  • Inspect your sling regularly for any signs of wear or damage. If you notice any tears or fraying, contact your doctor or replace the sling if necessary.
  • Consider having a spare sling on hand in case your primary sling becomes dirty or damaged.

By following these care instructions, you can ensure that your sling remains clean, comfortable, and effective throughout the healing process.


Wearing a sling for a broken clavicle is an important part of the healing process. By understanding the importance of a sling, choosing the right type of sling, putting it on correctly, managing pain and discomfort, and caring for your sling, you can ensure a more comfortable and successful recovery. Remember to consult with your doctor or healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance. With proper care and attention, your broken clavicle will heal, and you will be back to full strength in no time.

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