Neck Pain Exercises-treat your own neck pain by using the best neck exercises and learn which are the worst for your neck.

Whiplash, Neck Pain and Soft Collars-should you use them?

Posted by in Neck Pain Causes |

Scenario: you have a car accident, you have whiplash, you have neck pain, you go to the doctor and he recommends pain killers and a soft collar to be worn for the next month. What is wrong with this picture? Everything.

It used to be common practice for doctors to prescribe the use of soft collars for a month, 2 months or more based on the premise that protecting the area will allow the area to heal and therefore make you better. Unfortunately, this thought process is wrong. The use of a soft collar should be minimal at most. If you leave your neck in a soft collar for an extended length of time your neck can get worse not better. The same applies to all of your joints. Any of you who have had perhaps a sprained ankle for example will know that a physiotherapist will ask you to start moving it as soon as possible in a pain free range of movement. If it is still too sore you will be asked to do isotonic exercises( putting load on the tendons and ligaments without the actual joint moving) to make the structures heal more quickly. You want to have a strong and flexible repair and that is exactly why you should start  a stretching and strengthening program as soon as the inflammatory phase has finished.(normally within the first 2-3 days)

Your neck ladies and gentlemen is no different. If you leave your neck static, bound up in a collar, muscles and other soft tissues atrophy (waste away) and the joints stiffen. The same is with your sprained ankle, lock it up with tape for a month and you will come out of that tape MUCH WORSE than the person who got their joint and soft tissues moving almost straight after their injury.

In a nutshell, if you have neck pain you need to get it moving as soon as possible (as pain permits). Here are some related studies showing what the medical community now knows:

From  netdoctor.co.uk  on ‘What Causes Whiplash?’

“Research has shown that whiplash patients who rest for several weeks and wear a soft collar actually recover more slowly than those who try to follow a normal routine.”

And from patient.co.uk in ‘Whiplash Neck Strain’:

“In the past, some people have worn a neck collar for long periods after a whiplash sprain, and have been reluctant to move their neck. Studies have shown that you are more likely to make a quicker recovery if you do regular neck exercises, and keep your neck active rather than resting it for long periods in a collar.”

And from ‘The Enigma of Whiplash Injury’ by W.F Young:

“Mealy and associates, in a prospective randomized trial comparing use of a soft cervical collar and analgesic medications with a regimen of active therapy, found that the group treated actively had significant improvement in both neck pain and mobility compared with the group treated with a soft collar.”

The American Academy of Orthopedic surgeon’s reports:

“In the past, whiplash injuries were often treated with immobilization in a cervical collar. However, the current trend is to encourage early movement, rather than immobilization. The soft collar may be used for a short term and on an intermittent basis.”

“In a third prospective randomized study… Patients encouraged to remain at their normal level of activity had a better outcome than patients treated with immobilization and time off from work.”

Once again, it’s vitally important to get your joints(s) moving as soon as possible after the initial inflammatory phase to encourage proper scar tissue formation, decrease your healing time and have a strong and flexible joint to allow you to get back to your full range of activities and enjoy life to the fullest.