Best Neck Braces

Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for best neck braces

Neck injuries vary in type and severity. A pain in the neck can be preceded by sleeping at an odd angle, by a slip-and-fall accident, or by involvement in an automobile or sporting accident. Degenerative changes in the neck or spine can also cause pain.

If you experience pain in your neck, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before purchasing a neck brace. Your healthcare provider may recommend a neck brace to wear after neck trauma or surgery to control pain. They can diagnose and evaluate your condition and recommend the best type of neck brace for you. Your doctor will advise you as to when you should wear your brace and suggest how long you can expect to require neck support.

Read on to learn more about the types of neck braces and the conditions for which they are appropriate. If you know what you need and are ready to purchase a brace, we invite you to check out our top recommendations.

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Neck braces, also known as neck orthotics, are made from a diverse array of materials including molded plastic, metal, elastic, foam rubber, and cotton or nylon fabric.

Types of neck braces

There are several types of neck braces that can be worn for protection, stabilization, and support. This includes soft cervical collars, which are recommended for support and to help control pain after a traumatic injury, rigid neck braces that help control your movement, and cervical-thoracic neck braces.

Soft cervical collars

Soft cervical collars are often made of thick foam rubber and covered with a cotton or nylon sheath. They are fastened with adjustable Velcro straps and help support the neck and head, reducing pressure on the injured area.

Rigid neck braces

Rigid neck braces are made from molded plastic with separate front and back pieces attached with adjustable Velcro straps. These braces also have removable padded liners. Rigid neck braces restrict movement after injury or surgery. The two most widely used rigid neck brace designs are the Miller J neck collar and the Philadelphia collar.

Cervical-thoracic neck braces

Cervical-thoracic neck braces are another unique type of brace designed to assist in the healing process of patients with neck (cervical) or upper back (thoracic) injuries. This type of brace can be used by patients recovering from neck fusion surgery and for those who need to restrict neck movement after an injury. Made of plastic, cervical-thoracic braces feature a two-piece plastic padded chest jacket (front and back) held securely with Velcro straps. The brace provides chin support and a back-of-the-head rise attached to the chest jacket.

Finding a proper fit

Your neck brace cannot do its job if it does not fit properly. If a neck brace doesn’t fit right, you may develop rubbed or raw spots on your skin. You may experience discomfort from moisture collection or pressure points, too. If you are unable to adjust the neck brace so that it is supportive and comfortable, visit an orthotist who can correctly manipulate the brace and adjust the fit.

When purchasing a neck brace, look for a money-back satisfaction guarantee that the neck brace you select will provide the proper fit and comfort.

Showering and bathing with a neck brace

If your doctor agrees, you may remove your neck brace to bathe, shower, and shave. If the doctor recommends that you do not take off the brace, you must wear it. After showering, lie on the bed and have a caregiver remove the brace; it is important that you do not move about. Ask your caregiver to replace the washable padded line with a dry one and to assist you in reapplying the brace.

  • Always put on or remove your neck brace in a prone position. Never remove your neck brace while standing or sitting.


Closures: Neck braces feature several different types of closures and adjustment points, including collars with Velcro closures, hook-and-eye closures, and string or strap closures.

Size: Neck braces vary in circumference (21 inches to 42 inches) as well as height (2.4 inches to 4 inches). You will likely need a tape measure to determine your particular size. Consult your physician or the product literature to determine what size matches your measurements. Some companies offer a printable tape measure in case you don’t have one at home.

Adjustability/inflation: Some neck braces feature adjustable cotton padded liners. Others are inflatable for regulation of pressure points and added comfort. Inflatable neck braces provide a hand pump to allow the wearer to adjust the amount of pressure applied to the neck and shoulder muscles.

"An orthotist is a specialist who designs and custom fits neck and spinal braces. "

Neck brace prices

Inexpensive: In the lower price range, neck braces may not be as well constructed as those in the higher price range. However, if your doctor advises that you will only have to wear a brace for a week or two, quality of construction and durability may not be a big issue. Neck braces in this price range cost from $8 to $12.

Mid-range: In the mid-price price range, a hard cervical collar made of plastic costs $20 to $30. A soft cervical foam rubber collar brace costs $15 to $20. These neck braces are available in more sizing options, so it's much easier to find one that fits.

Expensive: In the higher price range, expect to pay $50 to $65 for a soft cervical collar and $75 to $90 for a hard cervical collar. Neck braces in this price range are well constructed, washable, and likely to fit better than budget choices. Cervical collars tend to be designed for optimum support and comfort, providing substantial motion restriction without the painful pressure points that can cause the skin to break down. The hypoallergenic, washable, cotton-lined, breathable surfaces found on pricier neck braces are less abrasive and softer than those in the lower price ranges. Some neck braces in the higher price range also feature height-adjustment technology.

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Did you know?
A halo neck brace or spinal traction device is the most rigid of all of the different types of neck braces. A SOMI (sterno-occipital-mandibular immobilization device) is another type of rigid neck brace that features a chest plate with stabilization bars that fit over the shoulders.


  • Padded neck brace liners must be changed or cleaned daily. Launder the pads and allow them to dry. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals.
  • Use a mild detergent and water to clean the hard surfaces of your neck brace by hand. Rinse and wipe away excessive moisture. Allow the brace to air dry.
  • Private health insurance and Medicare offer coverage for medical appliances, including neck braces prescribed by a physician. Consult your carrier to verify coverage.
  • When choosing a neck brace, look for one that is FDA approved.
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To apply a rigid brace, start from a prone position. Place the front half of the brace on your chest. Slide the brace upward until it firmly nestles under your chin. Attach the Velcro straps or elastic bands so they are firmly in place (yet comfortable).


Q. If I am wearing a neck brace for an injury, how much do I need to restrict my movements?
It takes a bit of doing to get used to wearing a neck brace. The brace restricts movement, so your balance will be a bit off. You won't be able to see to tie your shoes or see your feet, so take care where you are walking. It is best to avoid any exaggerated movements, such as extreme twisting or bending of the spine. When moving about, especially when transitioning from a lying or sitting position to a standing position, focus on using your leg and arm muscles to ambulate, keeping your spine in proper alignment. Be sure to follow your doctor's advice, even when resuming moderate exercise.

Q. How long should I wear my brace?
Talk to your doctor, and be sure to follow their advice. It is important to support and stabilize the neck until it is healed or fused. Depending on your medical issue, you may have to wear the brace from four weeks up to as long as four or six months. Persons with degenerative problems may have to wear their neck brace indefinitely or until the problem is corrected by therapy or surgery.

Q. What are my physical restrictions when wearing a neck brace?
Orthopedic doctors advise it is wise to postpone vigorous activity until cleared by your doctor. Do not drive a car or any other type of vehicles such as an ATV, scooter, motorbike, or golf cart; you do not want to be turning your neck to "see what's coming" down the road or across the fairway. If you ride in a vehicle, do not ride in the front with an airbag. Do not ride a horse or participate in any activity that could strain your neck or cause you to be shaken or bumped about.

Q. I had neck surgery, and the wound is still healing. As part of my recovery, I wear a neck brace day and night. How am I supposed to shampoo my hair?
Use dry shampoo every other day. While dry shampooing is not as refreshing as a shampoo in the shower, the dry shampoo does allow you to keep your hair clean and sweet smelling in spite of your restrictive neck brace.

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