What are the symptoms of somatosensory tinnitus?

tmj pain.png

Individual patients with somatosensory tinnitus can present with a large set of different symptoms. Therefore, it is challenging to define how common it is to have somatosensory tinnitus and therefore, direct symptoms!

In fact, research says the prevalence varies from 16% to 83% depending on the study. This doesn’t help clinicians or patients much as that is such a large difference!

Recently, experts in somatosensory tinnitus were gathered together to create a consensus statement about the diagnostic assessment of somatosensory tinnitus. We are providing the full details from the study by Michiels et al 2018 as experts agree the diagnosis is made more from evidence from certain features for a set array of criteria.


Criteria on tinnitus modulation

  • The patient is able to modulate the tinnitus by voluntary movement of the head, neck, jaw or eyes

  • The patient is able to modulate the tinnitus by somatic maneuvers

  • Tinnitus is modulated by pressure on myofascial trigger points


Tinnitus Characteristics That, If Present, Strongly Suggest Somatosensory Influence of Tinnitus.

Tinnitus characteristics

  • Tinnitus and neck or jaw pain complaints appeared simultaneously

  • Tinnitus and neck/jaw pain symptoms aggravate simultaneously

  • Tinnitus is preceded by a head or neck trauma

  • Tinnitus increases during bad postures

  • Tinnitus pitch, loudness and/or location are reported to varyIn case of unilateral tinnitus, the audiogram does not account for unilateral tinnitus


Accompanying Symptoms That, If Present, Strongly Suggest Somatosensory Influence of Tinnitus.

Accompanying symptoms

  • Tinnitus is accompanied by frequent pain in the cervical spine, head or shoulder girdle

  • Tinnitus is accompanied by the presence of pressure tender myofascial trigger points

  • Tinnitus is accompanied by increased muscle tension in the suboccipital muscles

  • Tinnitus is accompanied by increased muscle tension in the extensor muscles of the cervical spine

  • Tinnitus is accompanied by temporomandibular disorders

  • Tinnitus is accompanied by teeth clenching or bruxism

  • Tinnitus is accompanied by dental diseases


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.

If you are having pain, contact your ENT, audiologist or dentist to see if you are a right candidate for PT services by PhysioFit of North Carolina. Feel free to contact us below too for direct care.