Discharge Instructions: Philadelphia Collar (Neck Collar)

Your doctor has prescribed a Philadelphia collar for you. This rigid neck collar will keep your neck and spine straight and help healing by supporting the neck bones. It has front and back pieces that attach with Velcro on the sides. Here are some home-care instructions for you to follow. 

Activity guidelines

  • Arrange your household to keep the items you need within reach. Ask for help from others when you need it.

  • Remove electrical cords, throw rugs, and anything else that may cause you to fall.

  • Use a backpack, fanny pack, apron, or pockets to carry things so you can keep your hands free.

  • Use nonslip bath mats, grab bars, and a shower chair in your bathroom to help you keep your balance.

  • Use chairs with arms. This makes it easier for you to sit down and stand up.

  • Nap if you are tired, but don’t stay in bed all day.

  • Do not bend, twist, or reach until your doctor says it’s okay.

  • Do not lift anything heavier than 4 pounds or as instructed by your doctor.

  • Do not move your head up and down or side to side.

  • Do not drive until your doctor says it’s okay. This will most likely be when you can move your neck from side to side freely and without pain. Never drive while you are taking opioid pain medication.

Guidelines for collar use

  • Wear the neck collar at all times. Don’t stop wearing the collar until your doctor says it’s okay.

  • If you receive two collars, wear one and keep the other one on hand in case one becomes damaged or you need to remove one for cleaning.

  • Inspect the skin under your collar daily. Look for redness, tenderness, or breaks in the skin.

Putting on the collar

The instructions below are for a one-piece collar that you can put on by yourself. If you’ve been given a two-piece collar or a collar that requires help to put on, ask your healthcare provider for written instructions.

  • Open up the collar by releasing the Velcro strap.

  • Face the mirror.

  • Place the indentation (V-notch) of the collar underneath your chin.

  • Wrap the collar around your neck.

  • Fasten the Velcro strap, making sure the collar fits snugly, but not too tightly.

Keeping the collar clean

  • If you have a backup collar, remove the first collar.

  • Put on the backup collar by following the instructions above.

  • Clean the first collar by using mild detergent and cold water.

    • Don’t put the collar in the washing machine.

    • Don’t use bleach.

  • Air dry the collar by laying it flat on a towel.

    • Don’t wring or squeeze the collar.

    • Don’t put the collar in the dryer or near a heater.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to seek medical attention

Call 911 right away if you have:

  • Chest pain.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Trouble swallowing.

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control.

  • Sudden inability to move arms or legs.

Otherwise, call your doctor immediately if you have:

  • Severe back or neck pain.

  • Bruising or swelling on your neck or back.

  • Redness, tenderness, or a break in the skin under the collar.