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Clinical Trial
. 1996 Jun;3(6):568-73.
doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1996.tb03466.x.

The Effect of Soft Cervical Collars on Persistent Neck Pain in Patients With Whiplash Injury

Free article
Clinical Trial

The Effect of Soft Cervical Collars on Persistent Neck Pain in Patients With Whiplash Injury

P Gennis et al. Acad Emerg Med. .
Free article


Objective: To assess the efficacy of soft cervical collars in the early management of whiplash-injury-related pain.

Methods: A controlled, clinical trial was conducted in an urban ED. Adults with neck pain following automobile crashes indicated their initial degrees of pain on a visual analog scale. Patients with cervical spine fractures or subluxation, focal neurologic deficits, or other major distracting injuries were excluded. Patients were assigned to receive a soft cervical collar or no collar based on their medical record numbers. Pain at > or = 6 weeks postinjury was coded as none, better, same, or worse, and analyzed as 3 dichotomous outcomes: recovered (pain = none); improved (pain = none or better); and deteriorated (pain = worse).

Results: Of 250 patients enrolled, 196 (78%) were available for follow-up. Of these patients, 104 (53%) were assigned to the soft cervical collar group, and 92 (47%) to the control group. These groups were similar in age, gender, seat position in the car, seat belt use, and initial pain score. Pain persisted at > or = 6 weeks in 122 (62%) patients. The groups showed no difference in follow-up pain category (p = 0.59). There was no significant difference between the 2 groups in complete recovery (p = 0.34), improvement (p = 0.34), or deterioration (p = 0.60). The study had a power of 80% to detect an absolute difference of at least 20% in recovery, 17% in improvement, and 7% in deterioration (2-tailed, alpha = 0.05).

Conclusions: Most patients with whiplash injuries have persistent pain for at least 6 weeks. Soft cervical collars do not influence the duration or degree of persistent pain.

Comment in

  • Research can be a pain in the neck.
    Levitt MA. Levitt MA. Acad Emerg Med. 1996 Jun;3(6):563-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1996.tb03463.x. Acad Emerg Med. 1996. PMID: 8727624 No abstract available.

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