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How do I Choose the Best Cervical Brace?

By Brandi L. Brown
Updated May 17, 2024
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Selecting a cervical brace is not an exact process. When selecting a brace, a few points are important to consider. One is the size of the brace, because a cervical collar of the wrong size does not provide any medical benefit. The style of the brace also is important because different injuries require specific types of braces. Finally, the comfort level of the patient is vital because patients need to comply with orders to wear the brace.

Cervical collars come in basic sizes: small, medium and large. This simple sizing system means that patients do not get an exact fit with a cervical brace. Instead, the patient needs someone to do a basic measurement. Doctors and physical therapists, as well as nurses, are able to help with cervical brace fittings.

The length from the top of the collarbone midway to the shoulder to the jaw line determines the size collar that a patient will need. The selected cervical collar should be the same width as this distance on the patient’s body. Even after using this sort of “eyeballing” approach to sizing the brace, trying the choices on for fit will make sure the patient chooses the best one.

The style of brace matters because the patient needs to be able to get in and out of the brace appropriately to ensure immobilization of the area. If a patient is not sleeping in a brace, for instance, the patient needs a brace that has an opening on the front. The patient’s chin should rest on the cervical brace and not protrude over it. Some braces will be easier to open and close for some patients. Not being properly immobilized in the brace can cause problems, including exacerbating the injury if the patient moves his or her neck too much.

Another consideration is the effort that it will take to wash the chosen cervical collar. A patient must wash the collar to prevent bacterial buildup and odor. Some patients will be able to spend more time and energy on the upkeep for their brace, making the style decision important.

Most cervical braces come with padding. This padding will keep the brace from causing discomfort for the patient. The padding on a cervical collar comes in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, and patients need to try on the collar with the padding in place before making a decision on the collar. The wrong padding could be uncomfortable.

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Discussion Comments

By SteamLouis — On Sep 22, 2014

I experience pain and stiffness in my neck sometimes due to a hernia which developed years ago during a car accident. Usually, I'm fine, but sometimes the pain just hits me. I've found using a cervical brace at this time extremely helpful. I don't like a brace that prevents movement entirely. I want to be able to look to the right and left. The type of brace I use keeps my neck straight and upright reduces the pressure and pain at the hernia but still allows some gently movement.

By ddljohn — On Sep 22, 2014

@ysmina-- No, they are the same. Cervical just means "relating to the neck." So any brace used on the neck and collars as well, are considered cervical braces.

Of course there are different types of braces and collars out there and they are suitable for different situations and injuries. Serious neck injuries and traumas require a stiff, plastic cervical brace with inside cushions to completely immobilize the brace. Doctors usually provide or order these for their patients. They are also used in hospitals and in emergency situations.

Collars, on the other hand, are for less serious injuries and for general support and protection. Anyone can use a cervical collar during their day to day activities. They are sold at stores, pharmacies and online.

By ysmina — On Sep 21, 2014

Is there a difference between a cervical brace and a neck brace?

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