Can Manual Therapy help Tinnitus?

I thought tinnitus is just treated by hearing aids

Tinnitus has a prevalence of 15% among the adult population. The problems are normally due to the ear but approximately 40% of these tinnitus patients suffer from somatic tinnitus due to somatosensory changes of the cervical spine or temporomandibular area (Michiels et al 2016).

Somatosensory tinnitus involves problems of the musculoskeletal system rather than of the ear. There are many authors now that underline the involvement of non auditory centers in the pathogenesis and regulation of tinnitus. Therefore, this could be a sole reason for your tinnitus or a secondary reason for your tinnitus.

We consider this population to have “somatosensory tinnitus” as the patient could have dysfunction in both the neck and the jaw. Therefore, having someone who is specialized to treat both of these regions is truly beneficial to give you an optimal treatment approach.

Can Physical Therapy help Tinnitus?

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Somatosensory tinnitus is a subgroup of tinnitus that is responsive to manual-based tinnitus treatments by your physical therapist. Considering the somatic tinnitus population is a rather large group (almost half of all tinnitus patients!), PhysioFit of North Carolina offers tailored and individualized treatments to the cervical spine and jaw.

A multimodal cervical physical therapy treatment can have a positive effect on tinnitus complaints in some patients with a combination of tinnitus and neck complaints. We recommend 1:1 sessions with your therapist to determine cause:effect of any neck or jaw movements and address those complaints immediately.

To back up our claims, here are two studies showing treatment to the cervical spine with manual therapy, exercise and education:

Tinnitus Treatment in Wake Forest, NC

Tinnitus Treatment in Wake Forest, NC

Bakker et al 2012 that found a significant decrease of tinnitus after 12 sessions of physical therapy in 62.9% of the patients.

Michiels et al 2016 found 53% of the patients perceived substantial improvement of tinnitus immediately after a 6-week treatment period. This effect was maintained after the follow-up period in 24% of the patients.

These results do show still a portion of patients did not show improvement. At PhysioFit of North Carolina, we not only treat the cervical spine to treat somatosensory tinnitus, but also treat the jaw and face. This is coined TMJ treatment.

Our Vestibular Specialist, Dr. Danielle Vaughan, is also available to evaluate and treat any underlying BPPV symptoms that may also be a reason for your symptoms.

Our exercise programs are also not just given to patients but are under the framework of “Feel it to Heal it Physio” —- where we make sure you feel your exercises where you should or they will not do you any good!

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or book an appointment today to get relief!


Harrison Vaughan is a physical therapist and co-owner of PhysioFit of North Carolina. He provides physical therapy assessment and treatment of somatosensory tinnitus in Wake Forest, NC. He utilizes patient education, ergonomic changes, cervical spine strengthening and/or mobility training, and local TMJ manual therapy procedures to help you.

Danielle Vaughan is a physical therapist and co-owner of PhysioFit of North Carolina. She is a Vestibular Specialists and uses physical therapy assessment and treatment of somatosensory tinnitus in Wake Forest, NC. She utilizes canalith repositioning procedure for BPPV and vestibular rehabilitation, alongside education and ergonomic changes, to help you.