Seven Ways to Use Arm Sleeves after Surgery
After my elbow surgery, they gave me a mesh sleeve to wear under my splint. This garment proved to have more uses than one! Read on to find out seven ways to use arm sleeves after surgery.
Elbow Surgery: Splint Mesh Sleeve Comes in Handy
I had to have elbow surgery after fracturing my arm when I fell off my bike. My elbow stayed in a hard cast for ten days. When my cast came off, they put me into a removable splint.
The removable splint was bright blue and very solid. I mean, you could knock on that thing with your knuckles and hurt your hard if you hit it too hard. Since it was such a clunky, heavy, uncomfortable piece of equipment, my occupational therapist cut a mesh sleeve I was to wear under the splint.
While I hated the splint, I loved my mesh arm sleeve. In fact, I found myself wearing it (and using it in other ways) even after I no longer needed the splint.
Seven Ways to Use Arm Sleeves after Surgery
Let me be clear. They gave me more than one mesh cutting. In fact, I would go back to my occupational therapy office over and over again, complaining the sleeve wasn’t big enough to cover my whole arm and protect me from that nasty splint.
In the end, I think I wound up with close to a dozen mesh arm sleeves. So, I found myself using the arm sleeves in a variety of ways.
Oh, and before I get to the list… they are washable! So, even if you’re not nuts like me and you don’t wind up with as many sleeves in your home, you can always wash them so you can use them repeatedly.
Here’s my list of seven innovative ways to use arm sleeves after surgery.
1) Keep the scar safe.
If you break your arm in the summer months, as I did, you’ll have to keep in mind the sunshine. Or, if you are a regular sunbather, this tip is for you.
The surgery scar is brand new, healing, baby skin. It’s sensitive and needs to be protected from infection. Sun rays can be harmful to surgical scars.
If you know you’re going to be outside enjoying those gorgeous sunbeams, make sure you have your mesh arm sleeve handy. You can wrap your healing scar with the mesh sleeve. It’s lightweight and breathable. Definitely a source of protection so you can still enjoy the sun.
2) Keep yourself from getting sick.
Ha! Well… if you’re anything like me… completely GROSSED OUT by blood, guts, and other bodily functions, the sleeve can come to your rescue.
The first few days after my hard cast was removed, the surgical sutures (also known as stitches) were visible (and touchable… double ick). I couldn’t look. I didn’t want to see the gnarly scar. I knew if I laid eyes on it, I might faint… or puke!
So, the sleeve can protect you from queasy feelings. It can be your safeguard as you’re getting used to your new appearance. The arm mesh sleeve can ease the shock from the fact that you’re going to have this super large scar across your elbow for a very, very long time.
3) You will wear it under the splint(s).
So, I had several splints during my rehab. My elbow recovery was a long, complicated process. My therapy team did everything in their power to help me get moving and healed.
While I was going to and from occupational therapy, I’d wear a splint on my arm. And, as I shared above that splint was hard. It was cold. It felt uncomfortable. It even pinched my skin in certain places.
That’s where using the arm sleeves after surgery came in handy. Rather than putting the awful splint right onto my skin, I’d first slide the mesh sleeve up my arm for protection. It kept my arm safe and protected from the goofy splint.
4) Sleeves facilitate sleep.
I’ve been a light sleeper for most of my adult life. Not only do sounds keep me up, but more recently I noticed I also need the room to be pitch black.
Well, arm sleeve to the rescue!
Remember I said I got my hands on like a dozen of the mesh cuttings? Well, one of the ways I put the mesh sleeve to work was in the bedroom.
You know those sleep masks? Well, rather than purchasing yet another mask (yes, I have a few of those too!), I decided to make my own.
Since the arm sleeve is mesh, it’s quite breathable. I either tied it around the back if the sleeve was long enough. Or, I was able to find two elastic pieces of material which I sewed into either side of the mesh sleeve. There you have it… a homemade sleep mask!
5) I could do my recovery exercises at home.
After elbow surgery, you likely cannot drive for a while. Well, that means asking for rides to a boatload of appointments.
For me, I was attending rehab three times a week. Yikes! My friendly neighbor was stuck driving me all over town.
Sometimes, I just could NOT make it to therapy. Like the day we had over 18 inches of snow. Well, I didn’t want to miss out on doing my recovery exercise… so, I found another workaround.
Enter the mesh arm sleeve!
So, my occupational therapist had wanted me to purchase a resistance band so I could do triceps exercises from home. I never did. I mean, enough was enough with this elbow nonsense. Instead, I put my arm sleeve to another great use.
The mesh sleeve became my resistance band. It’s flexible and stretchy. I was able to stand up against the wall and push my hand down, using the sleeve as resistance. Oh, the joy! I didn’t have to ask my neighbor to drive me to OT in the snow.
6) Sleeves keep you warm.
Above, I shared how I wore the sleeve even after I didn’t need the splint. Well, my arm would be cold at times.
Now, I developed something called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) in my elbow. I hope and pray that this doesn’t happen to you. However, the CRPS made my arm extra cold. So, I needed something to keep my limb warm, even if the rest of my body wasn’t as chilly.
I also found that during the night my arm would get cold. I tend to sleep in a tank top and when my elbow was out of the covers, it would get a bit nippy at night. So, again, slap on the breathable, lightweight mesh sleeve and it was lights out.
Ha! I had a sleeve over my eyes and over my arm… sleeve model while sleeping.
7) These sleeves have been fashion statements.
Here’s my age… I’m a child of the ’80s. Cyndi Lauper and Madonna were some of my favorites. And those girls had a certain style… right?
They wore arm sleeves! Mesh sleeves! Prints and colors and patterns and fabrics. Even fishnet arm sleeves!
So, if you have more than one sleeve and your whole arm journey is over with, there’s no need to toss the sleeves. You can wear one on BOTH arms and make a fashion statement. I imagine you could decorate or color or dye the fabric to create something beautiful.
That’s right. Turn that elbow accident into a playful memory of creativity and fun!!
Well, that’s all folks. If you’ve enjoyed these innovative ways to use your arm sleeves after surgery, let me know. Share a comment below. Or visit some of my other pages… perhaps, partnering with me along your healing journey.
About the Author: Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC, RYT (200) is a board-certified holistic nurse, registered yoga instructor, and reiki master.
Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is a certified coach, nature lover, and avid meditator.
Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull. She enjoys gardening, jigsaw puzzles, farming, music, and hiking.