Dr. Leo Bronston, DC, MAppSC, offers information for those wearing masks for long hours as a COVID-19 precaution. “My clinics are seeing an uptick in neck and upper back pain associated with wearing masks for long hours,” says Bronston. “While it is extremely important to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is also important to wear the right mask in the right way to prevent neuromusculoskeletal effects.
“Healthcare workers, retail associates, factory workers, teachers and students and many others are wearing masks for most of their days. Some are reporting jaw pain, neck stiffness and pain, upper back pain, headaches and eye tension because they are moving differently and holding awkward positions to accommodate their face coverings. Examples include tucking the chin, lifting the head or holding the neck stiffly. Masks that are too tight can compress facial nerves and pull the head forward unnaturally. Poorly fitting masks can block lower peripheral vision, increasing the risk of falling.
“Remedies include experimenting to find a mask that stays in place, covering the mouth and nose without obstructing vision; adjusting elastic/ties so they are snug, not tight; and remembering to move as normally as possible. Take frequent breaks to flex the jaw, neck, shoulders and upper spine. When possible, take a brief walk outside. If pain persists, seek professional help to avoid developing a chronic condition. Your chiropractor and physical therapist are good resources.”
Dr. Bronston is the owner of Bronston Chiropractic Clinics in Onalaska, La Crosse and Sparta, Wisconsin, along with the Community Care Clinic in Onalaska – providing affordable, accessible healthcare services for Coulee Region residents and employers. For more information, visit www.bronstonchiro.com or call 608.781.2225.