A neck brace ( or support) is an orthopedic device used to immobilize your head in order to relieve neck pain and promote healing of injured neck muscles, tendons and other structures. In the US & Canada, probably the most frequent need for a neck support is after neck injuries received in a road accident. There are more than a million car accidents each year in North America that require treatment for whiplash. In many of these cases, a neck brace will be part of the treatment.
A neck brace’s primary function is to relieve pain. It helps injured soft tissues of the neck support the weight of the head. This gives those tissues a chance to heal.
Neck braces also have a post operative role. After you have undergone spinal neck surgery, they can keep your neck bones properly aligned during the healing process.
In addition to the above uses, a neck support can be used as a precautionary measure while your doctor evaluates what type of injuries you have experienced and how serious they may be.
Some questions you may have as you go about choosing your neck brace include:
Should I sleep with the brace? Our advice would be that you should wear the brace to bed unless otherwise advised by your doctor. Try to sleep on a firm mattress (or as firm as possible) and sleep on your side. If you can’t sleep on your side (because it is too uncomfortable, for instance) try sleeping on your back instead;
Should I drive while I am wearing the neck brace? You should first of all check to see whether there are any local laws that may prevent you wearing the brace. Even if there aren’t any, be aware that the brace may restrict your ability to turn your head to the side and so may affect your driving performance. If you feel that this would be a serious impediment to your ability to drive safely, you should probably avoid driving while wearing your neck brace.