An individual may need to wear a neck brace or cervical collar after cervical spine surgery, or after experiencing a traumatic injury to the neck, from an automobile accident, sports, work, or personal injury. Neck braces are some of the most common spinal braces. A doctor might call these orthoses or orthotics. There are different types of neck braces also called cervical collars, and function for different purposes.
- They can be utilized in stabilizing the neck after cervical/neck surgery.
- They can provide non-surgical relief after experiencing trauma or injury to the neck
Neck braces or collars are used to limit movement, support the head, and take the load off the neck. This gives the muscles time to rest, recover, and heal properly and thoroughly.
Soft and Hard Neck Braces
Soft braces are made to be flexible and are made of a polyurethane foam rubber. They easily wrap around the neck and are secured with Velcro.
Soft collars are usually worn for a minor injury that just needs to be worn for a short time or to transition from wearing a hard brace from a more serious injury or surgery. Soft braces are worn typically at the end or completion of the healing process. The main purpose is to help with the gradual transition to remove the brace.
Hard neck braces look sort of like soft braces. The difference is that they are made of hard polyethylene and are rigid/stiff to really keep the neck from moving. These braces provide support and pain relief for spinal conditions like cervical spondylosis and acute neck pain.
A Philadelphia brace is made of stiff foam and is made in two pieces that attach with Velcro. The upper portion supports the lower jaw with the lower brace extending down to cover the upper back.
This brace is made to protect more of the neck area than a soft or hard brace. However, it does place a higher restriction on the neck and body’s range of motion. Because of its effectiveness for limiting movement, it is usually prescribed after cervical surgery for a healthy recovery. The Philadelphia neck brace is also used for stabilization of minor cervical fractures and to reduce pain brought on from neck muscle strain.
The Sternooccipital mandibular immobilization brace is a highly rigid brace used to position the neck in straight alignment with the spine. This brace immobilizes the neck completely by preventing the head and neck from moving at all. This allows the injured/damaged structures to heal correctly and quickly. Sterno comes from the sternum. The brace has a front chest plate, and bars that go over the shoulder.
It is secured with straps that attach to the front chest plate. It also has a removable chin piece where the mandibular comes from, which is the lower jawbone. And there is an optional headpiece for added protection and support. Occipital is referring to the occipital bone at the back of the head. This type of brace is used for the treatment of severe neck injury/s or cervical pain caused by a chronic condition, like arthritis. It can also aid in recovery after cervical spine surgery.
The halo brace is the most rigid of the neck braces. It completely immobilizes the head and neck from moving. Sometimes it is necessary to immobilize the spine after a major neck procedure or for stabilizing fractures in the neck or middle back area. Halo bracing is considered a form of spinal traction. Traction pulls the spine in 2 different directions.
The tension reduces the abnormal curvature associated with spinal conditions, like scoliosis. A halo brace has a metal ring secured to the head using pins. The ring is connected to bars that are attached to a properly weighted vest. The weight of a halo brace is different depending on the individual wearing it. A halo brace is worn at all times until completely healed and recovered.
Neck braces are the most effective when they are used as directed by a doctor, chiropractor, or spine specialist. Working with an orthotist, or a specialist that designs and custom fits spinal braces can be extremely beneficial. Any questions about how to wear and care for a spinal brace should be brought up with a doctor or orthotist. They will help ensure a full understanding of how to get the most benefit from the treatment.
Chiropractic Neck Pain Treatment
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