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What Is a Soft Cervical Collar?

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  • Written By: Nya Bruce
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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A soft cervical collar is a type of brace that fastens around the neck. Its purpose is to provide support in order to reduce pain and prevent excess movement. This type of device is particularly important for people who are suffering from severe neck pain that may hinder a person's ability to function. When suffering from this type of pain, movement may exacerbate the problem and slow down the healing process.

There are two basic types of cervical collars: rigid and soft. Other than comfort, soft cervical collars differ from the rigid, or hard, version in several ways. The soft brace, or collar, is made of foam that is most often covered in cloth, whereas the rigid brace is made of metal or hard plastic. Unlike hard cervical collars that immobilize the neck, the soft collar allows for some movement. This gives the wearer the ability to participate in certain basic day-to-day activities.

Soft cervical collars are most often meant to support the neck in order provide relief from pain that is caused by muscle, or soft tissue problems. Neck pain can be the result of injury, such as a blow to the head or neck, a car accident or sports injury. A pinched nerve, strained muscle or whiplash also may contribute to the need for a soft cervical collar. People who suffer from arthritis may wish to wear a collar at certain times for comfort.

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When a person needs a soft cervical collar, there are several ways that he can get one. While under medical care for pain or injury, the patient's doctor may fit him with the soft collar. These types of neck braces are also sold at most drugstores and are available without a prescription. Although this is a convenient way to get a replacement collar if necessary, a person should not purchase a soft cervical collar without first consulting his doctor regarding its use. This will help him to avoid wearing it too long and potentially creating a problem.

Typically a soft cervical collar is for short-term use only. This is because long-term wear of the collar can cause the unused muscles in the neck to weaken. The doctor who recommends the use of this type of collar will advise his patient on how long and how often to wear the device. This will depend on the injury and amount of pain, but will typically not exceed two weeks.

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