Osteopathic Journals and Research by Darren Chandler



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  • What is tinnitus
  • How the neck and jaw affects tinnitus
  • How osteopathy can help

What is tinnitus

Tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds that come from inside your body, rather than from an outside source.

It's often described as "ringing in the ears", although several sounds can be heard, including:

  • Buzzing
  • Humming
  • Grinding
  • Hissing
  • Whistling

Some people may hear sounds similar to music or singing, and others hear noises that beat in time with their pulse (pulsatile tinnitus).

You may also notice that your hearing is not as good as it used to be or you're more sensitive to everyday sounds (hyperacusis).

Tinnitus is rarely a sign of a serious underlying condition. For some people it may come and go and only be a minor irritation.

However, it can sometimes be continuous and have a significant impact on everyday life. Severe cases can be very distressing, affect concentration, and cause problems such as difficulty sleeping (insomnia) and depression.

How the neck and jaw affects tinnitus

Nerves to the inner ear can be directly related to the neck. A study in Berlin found a reflex between the nerves in the neck and the inner ear finding it responsible for an inner ear condition called somatosensory tinnitus. Other studies have found that nerves that sense things in the neck go to the cochlear nucleus (where the nerve to the ear comes from). Recent studies since have found a correlation between TMJ (jaw) movement and the function of the inner ear in these same patients. This could account for the association between TMJ movement and how patients hear their tinnitus.

The tinnitus treatment concept of the Charité University Hospital in Berlin involves integrating these factors to include the cooperation of ear nose and throat specialist

Knots (trigger points) in the neck muscle called the Trapezius has not only been associated with tinnitus and vertigo but also other autonomic phenomena such as skin reddening and lacrimation (watery eye). 

For this reason “somatic testing" (a series of strong muscle contractions of the head and neck) can (1) modulate tinnitus in approximately 80% of people with ongoing tinnitus, and (2) elicit a sound in approximately 50% of people with no tinnitus.

How osteopathy can help

Osteopaths are trained to detect and correct areas of tension both around the neck and the jaw (TMJ). By using massage and manipulation areas of tension can be released that are causing or compounding tinnitus symptoms.


http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Tinnitus/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed 1.4.2017

Demographics features, clinical findings and functional status in a group of subjects with cervical myofascial pain syndrome. (2008). Sahin N, Karataş O, Ozkaya M, Cakmak A, Berker E. (2008)

Evidence for a tinnitus subgroup responsive to somatosensory based treatment modalities (2007). Levine RA, Nam EC, Oron Y, Melcher JR.

Neural correlates of human somatosensory integration in tinnitus (2010). Lanting CP, de Kleine E, Eppinga RN, van Dijk P.

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