You see them on people all the time – those big stiff 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 of us are questioning whether 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 can have adverse effects, especially when used for longer periods of time.
The concern is that a long period of immobilization can result in atrophy-related secondary damage. Continued usage can cause the muscles in the neck to weaken because the collar is actually taking the place of those muscles.
Some studies have even shown that the use of a cervical collar may actually prolong 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. The sooner proper spinal, muscle and joint function are restored, the better. Waiting lengthens recovery time.
- Try to keep your neck moving in as normal a fashion as possible; this helps keep the muscles from stiffening.
- If you’re inclined to use a cervical collar, limit its use to less than a week.
- Perform stretching exercises that help support the neck muscles/joints.
- Continue with your normal daily routine and activities; try not to “baby” the injury.
Whiplash injuries can also affect the normal curve in the neck. A chiropractic exam can determine the amount of damage. While pain relievers and muscle relaxers may make you feel better, they won’t heal damaged ligaments, muscles and tendons. And a cervical collar does nothing to return the natural forward curve to 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.