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Cervical Collars: Helpful Fashion Statement?

Woman touching neck.

While cervical collars have their place, if you’ve injured your neck, give us a call.

You see them on people all the time – those big stuffed collars that keep someone’s head from moving.

They are often prescribed after a car accident, a sports injury or a fall, for whiplash or a soft tissue injury to the neck. They look uncomfortable. More and more those prescribing them are questioning whether there is credible evidence they should be used at all.

Neck pain is one of the most prevalent and costly health problems. Although, cervical collars are a seemingly benign intervention, they have adverse effects, which increase with prolonged use.  They are generally best used intermittently for short periods only.

The concern is that immobilization predictably results in atrophy-related secondary damage… and this occurs remarkably soon. Continued use of the collar can cause neck and supporting muscles to weaken as the collar causes de-conditioning of these vital tissues.

Some studies have even shown that the use of a cervical collar actually prolongs the recovery process. In fact, many patients with whiplash injuries have persistent pain for at least 6 weeks. Studies show that soft cervical collars do not change the duration or degree of pain.

So how should you treat a neck injury?

  • Get in to see us. Getting a personalized recommendation from the appropriate professional is a key 1st step. The sooner proper spinal, muscle and joint function are restored, the better. Waiting lengthens recovery time. And getting your information from well meaning friends, family or the internet can be dubious at best.
  • Try to keep your neck moving in as normal a fashion as possible; this helps keep muscles from stiffening, keeps nutrients flowing in and waste products flowing out.
  • If you’re inclined to use a cervical collar, limit its use to only short portions of the day (or night) and for only days, not weeks.
  • Perform personalized stretching and re-educational exercises that help rehabilitate the neck muscles/joints and essential proprioceptive responses.
  • Continue with your normal daily routine and activities being conscious to eliminate abnormal or stressful postures as much as possible without “baby’ing” the injury.
  • Icing the spine in the involved area is almost always appropriate home care.

Whiplash injuries can also affect the normal curve of the neck. A chiropractic assessment can help determine the type and amount of damage and establish the plan for healing. While pain relievers and muscle relaxers may make you feel less pain initially, they won’t heal damaged ligaments, muscles and tendons, they have their own well-documented risks, and may even interfere with your response-dependent, healing process. And a cervical collar does nothing to return the natural curve of the neck.

If you know someone wearing one of these fashion accessories, encourage them to call us for a no obligation consultation. We promise to give them the same high quality care that you’ve come to expect.

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