Cervical Collars: A Pain in the Neck?
by Wendy on 19th December 2019
Cervical (neck) collars are often recommended to patients after road accidents or sports injuries. Also known as neck braces, they are designed to keep the head from moving so the neck can heal, but they are stiff and uncomfortable. This begs the question: do they work?
Short-term wear can provide some reassurance and initial pain relief, but protracted use can result in any number of problems from atrophy to fear-avoidance, where the patient becomes dependent on the collar for fear of removing it.
Neck collars also promote immobilisation; psychologically-speaking, the patient may become afraid to move. This can have the adverse effect of prolonging the recovery process. A long period of inactivity after a neck injury can result in the muscles weakening due to lack of use because the collar is doing the supportive job of those muscles.
Whiplash injuries are amongst some of the most common neck complaints and can affect the natural curve of the neck. Whilst collars have frequently been prescribed to whiplash patients, they have not been proven of any benefit, and do nothing to restore that natural curve. Painkillers can provide some initial relief, but they won’t treat the root cause of the problem. A chiropractic exam and subsequent care plan can determine the extent of the damage, relieve the pain, and restore function.
How to Treat a Neck Injury
- Make an appointment with us; the sooner function is restored to your spine, muscles, and joints, the better. But don’t delay —the longer you wait, the longer your recovery time.
- Try to maintain your usual range of movement to prevent your muscles from stiffening.
- If you do wish to use a cervical collar, take it off within a week.
- Stretch! Performing appropriate stretching exercises can help support the neck muscles and joints.
- Where possible, continue with your normal daily routine. Giving in to the injury will not help you recover.
If you know someone who is struggling with a neck injury, encourage them to get in touch with us for a no-obligation consultation so we can help them get back on the road to recovery. You can reach us on 0161 763 1700 between 8am and 7pm, Monday to Friday.