Injury type: Acute

Category: Allied Health Options

Rating: Not effective

What is it?

A soft or semi-rigid collar placed around the neck to provide support and restrict movement, usually in the early stages after an injury. It may be worn either continuously or for prescribed periods throughout the day and/or night.

How does it work?

The collar immobilises the neck, allowing the injured structures of the neck to rest and thus may potentially aid in recovery.

Is it effective?

There have been several robust research studies investigating the use of collar following whiplash. The findings from these studies are consistent and do not support the use of a collar. A systematic review of existing whiplash related clinical practice guidelines1 highlighted that all guidelines recommended against the use of cervical collars in the initial management of whiplash. This finding is supported by another two subsequently published reviews. One review2 (used for revising a clinical guideline) reported a moderate level of evidence on minimising the use of a cervical collar for acute whiplash. Another rapid review3 synthesising evidence from highest level of primary studies, systematic reviews, and well-conducted clinical practice guidelines identified that immobilisation (including soft collars, beyond short term use following trauma) is not recommended.

Most recently, a systematic review4 was conducted to investigate the effect of non-rigid cervical collars on pain relief and functional restoration following whiplash. This review demonstrated that immobilisation with non-rigid cervical collars did not significantly improve pain relief and neck mobility recovery, compared to ‘act as usual’ (non-immobilisation protocols with or without concurrent physiotherapy).

Are there any disadvantages?

It is possible that wearing a collar may increase neck stiffness by preventing movement, therefore potentially delaying recovery and increasing the amount of time it takes to return to work after a whiplash injury.

Where do you get it?

Collars may be provided by the hospital, or by your treating therapist. Collars are available to purchase at most pharmacies/chemists.


The use of a collar is not recommended by research evidence as it may unnecessarily slow recovery.