Having a broken neck can feel lonely. Most of your friends and family won't relate to or understand what you're going through.

It might even make you long for the days when you and your friends could all complain together about knee pain or some more common, less-serious injury.

But, the truth is, there are tons of other people who have been where you are now.

And, I am one of them.

While I healed my broken neck, I kept notes on the healing process. I recorded aches, pains, and helpful tricks to help me feel human again.

No matter where you are in your broken neck journey, you'll notice there are two distinct phases—life with the neck brace and life after the neck brace comes off. 

Although these two phases of your life are connected, they are very different from each other. Each phase will come with its own struggles and trials.

Below is a summary of what you might expect during each phase as well as some ideas for pain relief techniques that can be used in both phases.

Life With Your Neck Brace

Whether you're in a cervical collar or Halo, learning about your cervical spine and its muscles is one of the first things you should do after your accident. This will help you understand and anticipate aches, pains, and issues that will arise as your neck heals.

Then, if you're sporting a cervical collar, you'll want some tips on how to make the best out of your time in the brace. Although this new Victorian-style accessory is extremely helpful, it is also a little difficult to get used to.

After you were initially outfitted with your neck brace, your doctor may not have taken the time to teach you how to adjust yourself in order to be comfortable while wearing your neck brace. Believe it or not, there are some simple guidelines you can follow and changes you can make that will greatly increase your personal level of comfort while wearing your brace.

cervical spine fracture

Sleeping comfortably can be quite challenging with your neck brace. But, fortunately, it can be done! Read the following post to learn how to get a good night's sleep tonight.

Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah.
I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains.

Life After the Brace Comes Off

It has finally happened—after waiting and healing, your doctor has finally told you it's time to take off your brace. Although this is very exciting and exactly what you've been waiting for, you need to know that your initial time without your brace will probably be painful in a whole new way.

Your neck muscles have not been working for quite some time now, and I think we all learned from Jerry Maguire that the human head is pretty heavy. This recipe of weak muscles + heavy head equals neck and upper back pain.

Sarah Stockett

After you are released from wearing your collar, I very highly suggest you start physical therapy to retrain your muscles and regain your strength. This will save you tons of pain and help you feel like you're getting back to normal.

If your doctor won't give you a script for physical therapy (like mine wouldn't), go see someone who will and get that script! In my case, my chiropractor/acupuncturist helped me out.

Find out what I did in my first physical therapy session.

Over several months, my therapist helped me get stronger and progress. By the end of our time together, I felt like I had a full range of motion and was completely able to move my neck just like before the break. The post in the link below details a workout and a yoga sequence that were part of my therapy.

Click here to read about my later physical therapy sessions.

If you're looking for some sort of complete guide to making it through the times both with and without your neck brace, you're in luck. After I was completely healed, I took all my notes and observations and put them into a book, Snapped:  A Helpful Guide for Broken Neck Recovery.

Pain Relief Techniques

Healing can be a very painful process. While medicines may dull the ache, they don't often fix the cause of the pain. This is where alternative forms of pain relief can be helpful.

Below is a list of pain relief techniques that you might want to try, whether you're living with the neck brace or without it.


When you become a member of the Custom Pilates and Yoga community, you’ll learn simple, strengthening exercises to help you enjoy your favorite activities with less pain and more energy.

Call Your Doctor When...

You already know that a broken neck is no joke. Although it might be a while before your next scheduled doctor's visit, you need to make sure to pay attention to how you're feeling.

Remember, you are your own best advocate.

Please call your doctor's office if you:

  • feel like your pain has increased.
  • notice new numbness or tingling.
  • have fallen or hit your head.