Why would a cervical collar be harmful, don’t they help neck pain? Aren’t people supposed to wear them after accidents? What can happen if we wear them too much?
Neck supports offer comfort after injuries but can cause a great deal of damage, especially if they are worn excessively. Neck braces lead to bone loss or osteoporosis. They cause muscle wasting or weakness, and even lead to psychological dependency.
The human body is an amazing machine, and even knows when we use supports. The body senses less mechanical stress in areas that are being supported. When it does, it removes calcium from the bones because it assumes less is needed to hold the head up. The muscles around the spine become weaker as they are used less. Finally, people get habituated to the false sense of comfort collars offer. They sometimes wear them longer than they should and become dependent on them physically and mentally.
Cervical collars are beneficial when prescribed and used correctly. Wearing a neck brace for a few days immediately after an accident can be helpful in reducing pain and allowing for healing. As the tissues become stronger and heal, it’s important that they are used less frequently.
They should never be worn to sleep, as a high quality cervical pillow (a pillow with a special curve for the neck), is much more beneficial while resting.
Hard cervical collars are useful in cases of neck fractures (broken bones). As the neck heals or, when they’ve served their purpose, even hard collars should be used less and less. Eventually, they too should be discarded.
If you see someone wearing a cervical collar, ask them about it. Often times they can get great relief with gentle chiropractic care. Gentle movement to the joints of the neck after accidents in particular, facilitate complete healing. Chiropractic is a safe effective way to create movements that let the body mend itself with little or no painful scar tissue. Without chiropractic, the spine heals poorly and is subject to pain and arthritis.