How to do an arm sling

A sling is a device used to support and immobilize an injured body part. Slings can be used for many different injuries, but are most often used when you have a broken arm (fracture) or dislocated shoulder.


If an injury needs a splint, apply the splint first, then apply the sling. Always check the color of the person and pulse (circulation) after the injured body part has been immobilized. If the area becomes cool, pale or turning blue, or if the patient develops numbness or tingling, loosen the splint and bandage.

First aid

Care for all wounds before applying a splint or sling. If the bone is visible on the site of injury, call your local emergency number (such as 911) or at the local hospital for further advice.


How to sling

You will need a piece of fabric that is about 5 feet wide at the base and at least three feet long on the sides. (If the harness for a child, you can use a smaller size.) Cut a triangle from a piece of this fabric.
If you do not have scissors handy, fold a large square piece of cloth diagonally into a triangle.
Place the elbow of the person at the high point of the triangle, and the middle of the wrist along the bottom edge of the triangle.
Bring the two free points around the front and back of the same (or opposite) shoulder, and pin or tie securely together. Adjust the height of the node so that the elbow is bent at right angles.
If you do not have material or scissors to make a triangle sling, you can make one using a coat or shirt. Apply the sling in much the same way as shown in the pictures “Creating a Sling” associated with this article.
You can also make a sling using a belt, rope, vine, or sheet.
If the injured arm should be kept still, tie the strap on the body with another piece of cloth wrapped around the chest and tied on the injured side.
Occasionally check for leaks, and adjust the sling as necessary.


Do not try to realign an injured body part unless the skin is pale or blue or there is no pulse.

When to contact a doctor

Consult a doctor if the person has a dislocation, fracture, or serious bleeding. Also consult a doctor if you can not completely immobilize the injury at the scene by yourself.


Security is the best way to prevent fractures caused by falling. Some diseases make bones break more easily, so be cautious when it comes to helping a person with fragile bones.

Avoid activities that stretch the muscles or bones for long periods of time because they can cause weakness and falls. In addition, precautions when walking on slippery or uneven surfaces.