Tinnitus is the phantom sensation of sound in the absence of overt acoustic stimulation. Tinnitus is mostly subjective, as only the patient experiences it, and it is generally described as whistling, hissing, sizzling, or ringing. It can be frustrating and distracting from your everyday activities, including concentration, sleep and work.
Typically, tinnitus is related to hearing loss or a noise trauma, where cochlear abnormalities are the initial source. However, somatosensory tinnitus is a subtype of subjective tinnitus, where cervical spine (neck) or temporomandibular (TMJ) area causes or changes a patient’s tinnitus perception. Even though it is rare to have just somatosensory tinnitus, a large percentage of patients can have secondary influence from the neck and jaw region.
Treatment of somatosensory tinnitus is a condition that is commonly overlooked and generally not comprehensively managed. This is due to a lack of awareness that very specific physical therapy exists which can be extremely effective. As physical therapists with special interest in the cervical spine and TMJ related conditions, vestibular rehabilitation (dizziness/vertigo) and headaches, we understand that an effective approach to improve somatosensory tinnitus must include a multi-faceted approach including:
Treating the structures of the jaw and neck responsible for symptom production
Prescription of specific exercises to stretch tight muscles and strengthen others to help normalise TMJ and neck function.
Addressing lifestyle postures and other factors that may be placing strain on these injured structures resulting in symptoms persisting or recurring episodically.
Assisting to reduce fascial and nervous system involvement through manual therapies to the cranio-fascial and cervical spine.
Working in conjunction with your dentist, audiologist or specialist to coordinate any other treatment you may be receiving such as the use of hearing aids.
Referral to other specialists with a special interest in tinnitus for further assessment / investigation and treatment where necessary.
Treatment is personalized to each person’s unique needs and focuses on the use of manual therapy techniques that restore optimal function while relieving pain and symptoms as quickly as possible. Our goal is to maximize each individual’s progress toward an active pain-free lifestyle. Our manual therapy techniques include:
Joint Mobilization / Manipulation
Soft tissue mobilization
Trigger Point Release
Tinnitus is a usually a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. It can be caused by problems in outer, middle or inner ear. If the outer or middle ear has been ruled out by your audiologist or specialist, our vestibular physical therapist, Dr. Danielle Vaughan, can determine if you have an inner ear condition. The most common condition that is treatable is BPPV.
A recent study by Barozzi et al 2013 determined:
1 out of 5 of the patients in their study reported the appearance of tinnitus concurrently with the onset of the positional vertigo. It was mostly unilateral, localized on the same ear as the BPPV, slight in intensity and intermittent.
Even though vestibular rehabilitation is not as common of a treatment approach from physical therapists for tinnitus, in some instances, this could be a very treatable condition if ruled in following an evaluation.
Treatment is personalized to each person’s unique needs and focuses on the use of canalith repositioning procedures that could resolve symptoms as quickly as possible. Our goal is to maximize each individual’s progress toward an active pain-free lifestyle.
Discover how PhysioFit of NC can help you with your tinnitus and get back to feeling better and living better.
Call us today at 919-728-0335 for more information or to schedule an appointment online by clicking button below.