The sling is one of the biggest annoyances following shoulder surgery, but it is important for your recovery. To attempt to drive with a shoulder sling can be very dangerous. You need active use of both arms to deal with unexpected surprises encountered on the road while driving. This is particularly the case with high speed driving (freeways and highways) where reaction time is more important.
In most cases, the shoulder sling is simply to prevent shoulder movement. So, it’s okay to take it off when you are sitting at home with the arm at your side. You can take the arm out of the sling and place it on a pillow, mimicking the position that it would be in with the sling. When you are up moving around, when you are sleeping, and especially when driving the sling MUST be on.
Research studies have shown that wearing a sling impairs driving and therefore I must also recommend that you delay driving (particularly high speed driving) until you are out of your sling and weaned off narcotic pain medications as well. This is for 2 to 6 weeks depending on your surgery and rehab protocol.
For people living in the suburbs, being unable to drive even if it’s only for a few weeks can feel like being under house arrest! You can prepare ahead of time by stocking up your house with necessary items and getting a friend of family member to drive you around or setting up a carpool.
If you are scheduled to undergo arthroscopic shoulder surgery, you will have to come in for a preoperative visit 1-2 weeks before the procedure at which time you will be fitted for the shoulder sling which you must bring to the surgery and wear as recommend in the weeks following your surgery.
Dr. Patrick Denard has been voted one of the top 20 Shoulder Surgeons in North America and is the most widely published shoulder specialist in Oregon. Dr. Denard is committed to providing the highest level of Orthopedic care to his patients. Dr. Denard has advanced arthroscopy training and is able to perform the vast majority of shoulder procedures in a minimally invasive fashion, including all types of rotator cuff repairs and instability repair. These techniques allow him to repair tears that some consider “ irreparable”. Providing every patient with advanced medicine and compassionate care each and every time.