What Are Neck Supports and Neck Rests?
Neck supports and neck rests are not traditional neck braces, as their purpose is not to immobilize the neck or reduce movement. Instead, neck supports and neck rests are designed to help alleviate discomfort in the neck without hindering your ability to move. A neck support is a cushion or pillow shaped like a "U" that is placed over the back of the neck. The support helps to keep the neck relaxed by keeping the head lifted off of the shoulders.
Neck rests wrap around the entire neck and function similarly to neck supports. Some have pockets for inserting an icepack or hot compress to sooth inflammation while supporting the neck.
What Is a Cervical Collar?
Cervical collars are soft, flexible braces that are worn around the neck. Typically, these collars adjust for a tight, yet comfortable fit. Because the cervical collar is made out of soft materials, it does not completely restrict the movement of the head and neck, but it does reduce your potential range of motion. Your doctor may recommend a cervical collar for a minor injury that does not require your neck to be completely immobilized. A cervical collar may also be used after a more restrictive brace to promote continued healing of the neck.
What Is a Neck Immobilizer?
A neck immobilizer is a rigid neck brace made out of hard plastic, metal or a combination of the two. Often made up of two separate pieces, the immobilizer fits over the neck and helps to keep the head still and the upper spine from moving. Neck immobilizers are recommended for more severe injuries that require the neck to remain still in order to promote healing. Because neck immobilizers are so rigid, they are not adjustable like cervical collars. As a result, they are sold in specific sizes. Be sure to read the product descriptions carefully to ensure that you select the right size to properly support your neck.
How to Deal with Neck Pain
Often times, mild neck discomfort can be addressed at home with over-the-counter pain relievers, hot and cold compresses and cervical collars or neck supports. If your neck pain is due to an accident, is accompanied by any other symptoms or does not respond to self-care, you should see a doctor about your concerns.
Before using any type of neck brace as a part of self-care for neck pain, be sure to consult your doctor for advice about which style is right for your needs. Wearing the wrong type of neck brace could actually worsen your injury, making it important that you receive professional medical advice.
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