Injury type: Acute

Category: Allied Health Options

Rating: Not effective


What is it?

A soft or semi-rigid collar placed around the neck to provide support and restrict movement, usually in the early stages after an injury. It may be worn either continuously or for prescribed periods throughout the day and/or night.

How does it work?

The collar immobilises the neck, allowing the injured structures of the neck to rest and thus may potentially aid in recovery.

Is it effective?

Several studies have compared the use of various types of collars to early mobilisation, exercise programmes and advice to “act as usual” within the first 2-3 weeks after whiplash. Four studies found that immobilisation with a collar is inferior in terms of reducing pain, stiffness and disability associated with whiplash. Three other studies found no difference between the use of a collar and the other treatments in terms of pain, range of motion and disability. Two studies reported that people wearing a collar took on average longer to return to work than those who did not, whereas another 2 studies found no difference. One study found that commencing neck range of motion exercises soon after injury lead to improved range of motion at 3 years post-injury when compared to resting and wearing a collar. Overall the research does not support the use of a collar following whiplash injury.

Are there any disadvantages?

It is possible that wearing a collar may increase neck stiffness by preventing movement, therefore potentially delaying recovery and increasing the amount of time it takes to return to work after a whiplash injury.

Where do you get it?

Collars may be provided by the hospital, or by your treating therapist. Collars are available to purchase at most pharmacies/chemists.

Recommendations

The use of a collar is not recommended by research evidence as it may unnecessarily slow recovery.