Cervical spondylosis---also known as cervical osteoarthritis and neck arthritis---is a chronic degenerative disorder that affects cartilage and bone tissue in the cervical vertebrae, better known as the neck. Cartilage and bone wear away and mineral deposits form between the vertebrae, causing pain and stiffness among other symptoms. Wearing a cervical collar---or, a neck brace---can ease these symptoms and may even resolve your cervical spondylosis altogether.
Cervical Collar Benefits
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, cervical spondylosis sufferers should try wearing a cervical collar as an at-home remedy before contacting a doctor or health care professional for more elaborate treatments and medications. Mild cervical spondylosis cases often do not require additional treatment. Use a cervical collar during the day to restrict motion in the neck. Some neck motions cause nerve irritation and sharp pain due to the degeneration of cartilage and bone. Mineral deposits between the vertebrae also contribute to such pain and irritation. In addition to restricting motion, cervical collars keep the cervical vertebrae properly aligned and support the neck muscles.
Types of Cervical Collars
Soft cervical collars are made of soft elastic fabric that fastens around the neck by a Velcro strap. This is a comfortable, breathable collar ideal for cervical spondylosis patients in the earliest stages who do not require much support. Hard collars are necessary in cervical spondylosis cases that are more severe. While hard collars are less comfortable and malleable, they provide more support to the cervical vertebrae. You can find both types of cervical collar at a local chemist. However, you may need to consult a doctor or obtain a prescription for a hard collar that fits properly if you cannot find one at a chemist.
Cervical Collar Fitting and Application
Find a soft cervical collar that will support your head in a comfortable, upright position. The soft collar should be only as tall as your own neck. Make sure the collar reaches from the underside of your jaw to your collar. Apply the collar by keeping your head upright and forward. Do not tilt your head backward, as doing so may aggravate an inflamed nerve. Wrap the soft cervical collar around your neck securely, but not tightly. You should be able to breathe as easily as before applying the collar. Secure the Velcro straps to hold the collar in place.
If you have an adjustable-height hard cervical collar, adjust the height so that it is as tall as your own neck. Keep your head upright and forward without tilting it backward, as per soft cervical collar application. Slide the back end of the hard collar around the back of your neck and wrap it around to the front of your neck. Follow the attachment instructions on your hard collar's packaging, as it may fasten using Velcro or a particular kind of latch. Consult the video in the Resources section if you need help fitting or applying either type of cervical collar.
Tips and Warnings
Consult your doctor if cervical spondylosis symptoms worsen. Take over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen for cervical spondylosis pain while using a cervical collar. Call your doctor if you find yourself in chronic pain, or if the pain increases over time. Your doctor may need to prescribe a stronger pain medication and an alternate treatment, such as surgery.