When should a cervical collar be used to treat neck pain?

Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2008 Jun;1(2):114-9. doi: 10.1007/s12178-007-9017-9.


Neck pain is one of the most prevalent and costly health problems in the United States. It remains a complex, subjective experience with a variety of musculoskeletal causes. Although, cervical collars are a seemingly benign intervention, they can have adverse effects, especially when used for longer periods of time. It is feared that a long period of immobilization, can result in atrophy-related secondary damage. Many physicians cite anecdotal evidence of their clinical utility and soft cervical collars are often prescribed by convention for patients complaining of neck pain. The use of cervical collars to treat neck pain is an area of controversy. This review article examines the current evidence and studies related to recommending cervical collars for neck pain of a variety of etiologies.