Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


Sometimes I see people wearing a sling on their arm with a big bolster under the arm. What's this for anyway?


You may have seen a supportive sling with an abduction pillow. The bolster or pillow keeps the arm away from the body. This direction of motion or positioning is called abduction. The abduction sling is used most often after surgery for a rotator cuff tear (RCT) with a superior labrum anterior and posterior (SLAP).

The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that surround the shoulder like a sleeve. The tendons and the muscles attached support, stabilize, and move the arm in the shoulder socket. A SLAP lesion is a tear of the labrum. The labrum is a rim of cartilage around the shoulder socket. It gives the shallow socket more depth for stabilizing the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) in the glenoid fossa (socket).

There are certain movements which must be avoided after this type of shoulder reconstruction. The abduction splint helps keep the arm in the correct position until healing takes place. Moving the arm across the body or overhead isn't allowed for six weeks. Performing these movements too soon could damage the repair. Francesco Franceschi, MD, et al. No Advantages in Repairing a Type II Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior (SLAP) Lesion When Associated With Rotator Cuff Repair in Patients Over Age 50. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. February 2008.Vol. 36. No. 2. Pp. 247-253.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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