Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Hello and welcome! At FITFORBEACH we care about your health and wellbeing. That's why we review and inform you about a variety of products specifically designed to keep you fit. This is no exception: today we're going to talk about the support collar.

Unfortunately, we live in a fast-paced world where any carelessness can lead to an accident that can hurt ourselves or those around us. Fortunately, there are orthopaedic devices, such as the neck brace, that are very useful for coping with and recovering from most injuries.

With this in mind, we have created this guide to introduce you to this important and popular device. Please note that the content of this guide is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for the guidance of a healthcare professional. If you experience any discomfort, please consult your doctor.




First things first

  • The support collar is a device that supports the neck and immobilises it as part of the treatment of a neck injury. In addition, the neck brace is a very useful tool in the event of an emergency, as in the case of an accident, it prevents the progression of the trauma while the patient is able to receive medical attention.
  • There are medical collars and relaxation collars. The use of medical collars is indicated by doctors and is usually prolonged. There are several designs, each suitable for a particular condition. The relaxation collar is worn voluntarily and for short periods of time, with the purpose of relieving pain.
  • It is important to consider the support, immobilisation and fit of the collar, as well as the condition being treated. It is also highly recommended that the collar be hypoallergenic. All of these factors are at the discretion of your doctor, so we recommend that you consult with your doctor before making a purchase decision.

The Best Support Collar: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Now that you know the best neck braces on the market, let's talk about the neck brace itself. Doctors use them to treat a wide variety of conditions thanks to their multiple properties and functions. For this reason, it is worth getting to know them in depth and what they are used for, so read on!

Although it can be uncomfortable, the neck brace is essential for the recovery of injuries. (Photo: Auremar/123rf.com)

What is a Support Collar and what are its benefits?

A cervical collar, commonly known simply as a neck brace, is a medical instrument that is placed around the neck to support and immobilise it. This is done for the purpose of treating neck injuries following trauma. It is also applied at the time of an emergency to prevent further potential damage.

After a neck injury, patients should try to remain immobile, as even slight movement can hinder or even cause regression in the recovery process. This can be difficult, especially when performing simple actions such as walking. This is where the neck brace comes in handy.

Depending on the treatment and severity of the injury, the use of the brace may be intermittent or prolonged for a certain period of time defined by the doctor. It is also often used to align the upper vertebrae of the spine, resulting in a reduction of pain.

Advantages
  • Aids recovery from neck injuries
  • Available at any medical centre
  • Helps align the upper vertebrae
Disadvantages
  • Usually uncomfortable
  • Potential need for prolonged use
  • Limited ventilation inside

Medical and relaxation collar - what to look out for?

Although the purpose of the neck brace is essentially to treat neck injuries, there are also neck braces that are used for non-medical purposes. The effect is similar, but the main variable is the level of immobilisation they provide.

Medical collar:

The most common. It is used in emergency situations and also in the recovery phase of neck injuries. It is usually worn for prolonged periods and provides medium to high immobilisation. Its use must be indicated by a doctor.

There are simple and complex. Complex braces are used for more severe injuries and are usually composed of multiple manipulable parts, allowing the fit to be modified with greater precision. They are also often compatible with medical instruments such as feeding tubes. Simple ones consist of a single piece.

Relaxation collar:

The use of a relaxation collar is voluntary and momentary. It is usually inflatable. It is not designed to provide high immobilisation, so under no circumstances should it be used as a replacement for a medical collar.

As the name implies, it is designed to help relax the neck, as well as reduce pain and discomfort in the upper vertebrae of the spine. Because they are inflatable, the user can usually vary the level of stiffness to taste, depending on the extent of pain and discomfort.

Medical Collar Relaxation Collar
Primary Purpose Treat cervical injuries Relieve pain
Prolongation of use Weeks - months Minutes
Use Indicated by a physician Voluntary

How much does a Support Collar cost?

The simplest medical collars cost around 100 MXN. However, your doctor may request the use of one that offers greater support and immobilisation, which can cost between 600 and 2,000 MXN. Relaxation collars, on the other hand, range from around MXN 500 to MXN 1,000.

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different models of Support Collars

The neck brace is, in most cases, a specialised tool to treat a particular condition. For this reason, not all collars will be effective in all cases. Although this will be determined by a doctor, it is worth knowing the different types that exist.

  • Fit
  • Hypoallergenic and antibacterial
  • Support and immobilisation
  • Treated condition

Fit

Not all neck braces will fit everyone equally well. This is why it is important to consider the fit, because if the fit is not ideal, wearing it will be futile. As a general rule, the space between a well-fitting neck brace and the surface of your skin should not exceed two centimetres, but it should not prevent you from breathing.

Simple medical collar: Also known as soft/semi-rigid. They come in different sizes, ranging from 35 x 5 to 50 x 10 cm (length x width). In most cases they are slightly flexible and have a simple attachment/fastening system (often Velcro) for easy adjustment.

Complex medical collar: Because they are more specialised and consist of multiple parts, their fit is not universal. They are rigid. They usually come in sizes, and the vast majority of them have mechanisms to vary the fit for comfort purposes. It is important to try them on before purchase to ensure fit.

Relaxation collar: The fit is variable due to the manual inflation system. Since they are not designed to be medical/orthopaedic instruments, but merely for the relief of temporary aches and pains, the user can find the perfect fit to his or her liking.

A neck brace should be comfortable to allow you to continue with your work activities (Photo: Elnur Amikishiyev/123rf.com)

Hypoallergenic and antibacterial

This factor is particularly important in cases where the patient must wear the collar for prolonged periods of time. Therefore, it does not apply to relaxation collars. It is important that the collar is hypoallergenic and antibacterial to ensure that you can wear it for extended periods of time without having to remove it.

Otherwise, problems, such as infections and allergic reactions, may occur, delaying your recovery period by preventing you from wearing the collar for a prolonged period of time. If a neck brace has both of these features, it will be specified on the packaging. Both are defined and explained below:

Hypoallergenic: This means that it does not cause allergies. Some people are allergic to certain fabrics and materials, which cause dermatitis or irritation when in contact with the skin. Hypoallergenic collars are subjected to various tests to ensure that they do not cause any type of allergic reaction on the skin.

Antibacterial: It is possible that after prolonged use of a collar, bacteria can start to build up between the surface of the collar and your skin. This can lead to infection, irritation and even odour. Antibacterial treated collars inhibit the build-up of bacteria, ensuring that you can wear the collar without problems.

Support and immobilisation

For this factor, we will talk exclusively about medical collars, as relaxation collars are not designed to treat injuries. The required level of support and immobilisation varies depending on the severity of the injury. As a general rule, an effective neck brace should prevent you from turning your neck and rolling down.

High support: Reserved for severe injuries, such as fractures or sprains. It is usually held over the chest, offering the maximum level of support and immobilisation to the neck. It also slightly immobilises the upper trunk of the body.

Medium support: Supported from the upper chest, offering the necessary support for delicate injuries, such as sprains or torticollis, but not severe injuries such as a fracture or cervical sprain caused by a car accident.

Low support: Immobilisation is virtually non-existent. It simply gives some additional support to the neck. Low support collars are used to treat temporary aches and pains, not injuries and medical conditions.

Condition treated

As mentioned above, the type of neck brace required depends on the type of condition being treated, as the level of immobilisation and support required varies from one to another. Remember that it is your doctor who will be responsible for prescribing the ideal brace for you. Below, we will review some of the conditions treated with braces:

Tracheostomy recovery: Tracheostomy is a surgery in which an incision is made in the windpipe, which can serve a variety of medical purposes. In the recovery phase, patients require a high support and immobilisation collar that also has an opening for endotracheal tube feeding.

Whiplash: Occurs after whiplash, which is the sudden and rapid movement of the head in a traffic accident. For these cases, an emergency collar with high support and immobilisation is applied to prevent further damage, as any movement could worsen the situation.

Simple neck pain: This may be due to postural problems. In these cases, a simple medical collar is used to provide additional support to the neck, but not to completely immobilise it.

(Featured image photo: Andrea de Martin/123rf.com)

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