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Neck collar for suspected craniocervical instability?


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One of my doctors is just throwing stuff out there, and one suggestion was an Aspen Vista neck collar. I’m trying it... so far it is not too comfortable, as in, I swear my neck is fighting it! Has anyone had success or any tips on wearing these? I do feel better with neck traction, so I feel like he might be right.

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@RecipeForDisaster--how is the collar going today?  (They ARE uncomfortable, to be sure!)  Do you have any diagnosis of pathology in your cervical spine? Have you had imaging done? I am guessing not since you said the doctor is 'just throwing stuff out there.'  I have tried a range of collars (in fact, I have this amusing notion that I should mount my collar collection on the wall like some avant art piece) and none of them have really done much for me. 

I have used the Aspen when in really dire shape and it does help a little--I think the stabilization is of some value.  I also get better with traction (comfort trac or PT) and I thought a collar would be super helpful.  In my case, I finally  got the imaging that showed I do not have cranio-cervical instability (though I am near to that range) but I do have some atlanto-axial instability which is horizontal.  I still haven't figured it all out, but it feels to me as if the collar holds my neck in a way that is NOT good for my particular instability.  

I know a lot of people get benefit out of wearing a collar during car rides, when the vibration and the bumps can exacerbate things.  And I imagine you have also gotten the advice not to wear a collar for more than four hours a day?  I think that is standard--doing so ultimately weakens the neck muscles which will make things worse in time.  

I guess that in addition to the immediate feeling of wearing the collar I would look carefully at overall symptoms and see if you have any improvement at all.  I did have some, especially in a bad flare, and that was important diagnostic info--demonstrated that some of what I was dealing with originated in my neck.  If you have not had it done already, that would seem to be a good next step if you can swing it--see if you can get some MRIs, particularly in flexion and extension.

 

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I want upright imaging, but have not gotten it. I don’t think any doctors are interested. 
 

All I have is laying down MRIs that show a lot of stuff for my age. Bone Spurs, herniation, arthritis. My sister had a big time fusion, yikes. She had terrible radiculopathy, as do I. 
 

I haven’t been wearing the collar much because it’s too tall. We have not figured out how to make it slightly shorter. It’s also a little too long around, if that makes sense. My neck is smaller than it goes. So, it’s extra uncomfortable, because my chin is up and my muscles are fighting it. I think I have an anterior posture that doesn’t wolf witn a collar, but I’m game to keep trying. No, no one told me about the 4 hour limit, yikes! I probably wouldn’t anyway, and I myself know to avoid muscle weakening, but it’s scary that the doctor did not warn me.

 

mounting the collars on the wall is a great idea! I always think of would be so great to have a trading post at some point, where stuff people have tried can be passed on to someone who wants to try that. My CPAP group does that.

 

Car rides are one of the times I thought it would be most useful, too! Those really bother me. I felt better with simple manual traction and would love to try inversion. 
 

I was going to chart my vitals before and after the collar, once I get it right. Thanks!

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