Question:I have a mild case of myelopathy from pressure on my spine at C567. I'm going to try using a collar instead of having surgery right away. How long should I wear this?
Answer:In the past, wearing a collar to immobilize the cervical spine (neck) wouldn't have been recommended for this problem. Today we know that some patients can benefit from this type of treatment. Symptoms can be managed and the condition can even improve over time.
Exact protocols for cervical immobilization with collars or braces have not been worked out yet. Some studies published so far have tried eight hours/day for three months. This was followed by another three months of intermittent use. Others tried three months of constant use followed by three months of intermittent use.
It's best to have repeat X-rays and MRIs done to show the results of treatment. If the condition has stabilized, then the collar can start to come off gradually. If you wear it constantly, muscle atrophy and weakness may occur. A gradual weaning process will help restore muscle strength and maintain the stability you've gained by wearing the collar.
Your doctor can best advise you on a wearing schedule to start. Changes in the schedule will come automatically with the changes seen on imaging studies.Paul G. Matz, MD: Does Nonoperative Management Play a Role in the Treatment of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy? In The Spine Journal. November/December 2006. Vol. 6. No. 6S. Pp. 175S-181S.
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