cervical collars



Cervical collars are one of the most commonly used medical instruments. It helps to keep the neck immobile when the individual wearing it is recovering from injuries or trauma brought about by severe damage to it. Cervical collars are also called neck braces and are especially useful if the person has undergone cervical spine surgery.  Cervical disorders can occur due to the following reasons:

  • Surgeries on the neck
  • Compression of nerves in the cervical region
  • Whiplash effect or injury due to sudden jerk in the neck
  • Cervical spondylitis 
  • Chronic neck pain

It is a temporary means of treatment since, in most cases, it helps in stabilizing only the ‘cervical’ vertebrae or the top seven vertebrae of the spine and not the complete spine.  

A cervical collar is a non-technical name used to refer to this instrument. In medical terms, it is called Cervical Orthosis. 

Cervical collars are of different types. They are claimed to be beneficial in diagnosing cervical disorders. Doctors prescribe a particular type of cervical neck collar based on several factors like the extent of damage caused to the neck and the body’s ability to adapt to immobilization. Misuse of Cervical neck collars can worsen neck pain and cause a lot of distress to the patient. 


Cervical collars provide non-surgical relief to the person affected with a neck injury. The following types of neck collars are the most widely prescribed by the doctor as the first line of safety till they find a long term cure for the spinal injury

  • Soft Collars
    This type of cervical neck collar is manufactured with rubber made out of polyurethane foam. They are very flexible and can be easily wrapped around the neck. A velcro attachment is provided for holding it together. They are usually prescribed as advancement from rigid collars once the injury has healed up to some extent. It helps in slowly transitioning from complete immobilization of the neck to slight movements.

  • Hard Collars
    Hard collars are also made of polyurethane material but are more rigid than soft collars. They mainly give relief to chronic neck disorders like spinal spondylitis and acute aches experienced in the neck by a person.
  • The Philadelphia collar
    A Philadelphia collar is made from a set of two stiff foams that are attached to the sides with the help of velcro. The upper part of the collar helps in supporting the lower part of the jaw and the brace reaches down to support the thoracic region of the backbone. It covers a greater area than the collars mentioned above and therefore the scope of movement while wearing this is also very limited. It helps in the speedy recovery of the spine after undergoing cervical spine surgery. It is also beneficial in stabilizing less severe spinal fractures and reduction in pain in the strained neck muscles.
  • The Halo
    It is the most inflexible variant of cervical collars. It prevents the movement of both the neck as well as the head. Therefore, the halo is only used in the case of the most severe cases of spinal injury. It helps in stabilizing the fractures which are incurred in the vertebral regions of the cervix (neck) and the thorax( set of 12 vertebrae right below the cervical region)


  • Sterno-occipital-mandibular immobilization device or SOMI
    It serves the function of keeping the neck in perfect alignment with the spine most efficiently. It is very rigid and allows almost no movement at all. The brace helps in supporting the neck by demobilizing the head and the neck. The Sterno-occipital-mandibular immobilization device has a chest plate in the front with bars to go over the shoulders on both sides. Straps are attached to secure the bars tightly. There are bars to support the back though. Additional supports for the chin and the head with SOMI cervical neck collar provided for extra support if required. It is an excellent option for all moderate to severe cases of cervical disorders. Doctors prescribe it mostly in cases where the patient is experiencing pain for a very long time as in the case of chronic neck pain or rheumatoid arthritis.

Click To Read About Cervical Pillows>>


The use of a cervical collar is inescapable when it comes to severe neck and spine injuries, especially after major surgeries and cases of serious and incessant pain in the neck. In other cases, an individual might look for alternatives since it has the following side effects:

  • Long-term use of cervical neck collars can weaken the neck muscles
  • It can obstruct breathing
  • It can significantly increase jugular blood pressure
  • Cervical neck collars can lead to an increase in brain  pressure


Several medical professionals have turned against using cervical neck collars due to their negative impacts on the musculoskeletal system in the long run. There is a significant lack of research to depict its benefits in aiding the recovery of the injured neck and spine. 

Despite the downsides of using a cervical collar, there is no better alternative to it in cases of severe neck injury and fracturing of the vertebrae. An orthologist should be consulted to find a cervical collar that fits the patient perfectly, lowering the chances of secondary damages.

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