How to Manage TMJ Symptoms When Wearing a Mask During COVID-19

by Jan 13, 2022Health and Wellness, Injuries

Have you experienced more cervical, TMJ and headache symptoms from wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks? It turns out that this is the case for many people who have recently been required to wear PPE on a more regular basis with COVID-19.

woman wearing PPE

How does wearing PPE cause Headaches & TMJ Symptoms?

There are a few postural changes that may be occurring with mask wearing that could be contributing to some of these symptoms:

  1. Protruding the chin or tensing the jaw muscles to hold the mask in place.
  2. Increase in mouth breathing which creates an open jaw posture that further strains the muscles of mastication (chewing).

How can I manage TMJ symptoms?

Here are some tips to help manage TMJ symptoms:

  1. Ensure your mask fits well and is not so tight that it restricts your jaw from opening properly or so loose that it requires frequent adjustments
  2. It might be helpful to try a mask extender or ear saver hook as tight ear loops can irritate the muscles and nerves that run along the side of the scalp.
  3. Remember to breathe through your nose and relax your jaw. Try to rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth and try to avoid pushing down your chin to adjust your mask.

Helpful Exercises

Check out some of the exercises below that may be helpful for managing increased tension in the muscles of the cervical spine and headaches from the prolonged use of PPE.

  • Chin Retractions
  • Retraction and Rotation of the C Spine
  • Cervical Side Bending + Diagonal Gaze
  • Seated Cat / Cows
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing

We hope this helps you, if you have any questions or would look to book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, contact us here