What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the conscious, usually unwanted perception of sound that arises or seems to arise involuntarily in the ear of the affected individual. In most cases, there is no genuine physical source of sound Tinnitus, it is usually a symptom of other conditions rather than a condition all by itself. It can be a temporary experience such as if you have been to a rock concert and are experiencing tinnitus symptoms afterward. However, tinnitus can become a chronic issue.
Tinnitus is usually in connection with cervical spine problems and resolving the problem in the cervical spine can lead to an alleviation of the tinnitus symptoms. Neck pain can be one of the many symptoms that are usually presented with tinnitus. For some, tinnitus gets lost in the myriad of symptoms, however, for others, tinnitus is the primary concern. Some commonly associated symptoms are:
- Tinnitus usually occurs on one side of the face
- Numbness in the face on the side of the tinnitus
- Position of the jaw affects the ringing sensation
- Can be difficult to make a full smile, or they have a droopy eyelid
There can be many reasons for the presentation of Tinnitus:
- Eustachian tube dysfunction (most common)
The eustachian tube is the canal that connects the inner ear and the upper throat and its function are to regulate pressure in the inner ear to atmospheric pressure. Therefore if one of the Eustachian tubes isn’t opening or closing properly, the pressure on either side will be different. This will cause a build-up of fluid within the ear. If there is pressure in the upper cervical spine due to a misalignment this will interrupt the nervous communication between the brain to the muscles of the inner ear and results in these muscles not performing their job of opening and closing the tube.
Tinnitus can be a side effect of various medications, such as antibiotics, aspirin, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory drugs. If these drugs are being used to reduce the symptoms of chronic neck pain then addressing the cause of the neck pain could potentially reduce the tinnitus due to a reduction in medication use as they would no longer be necessary.
- Compression of a carotid artery (causes pulsatile tinnitus)
The carotid artery runs at the front of the cervical vertebrae and moves towards the ear. When there is compression of the artery, either due to the build-up of plaque (atherosclerosis) or a misalignment of the cervical spine, it will cause pulsatile tinnitus which varies with the heartbeat.
- Neck Injuries
Tinnitus is a common symptom that can present after a concussion, whiplash, or other head or neck injuries. This type of injury can easily cause an upper cervical misalignment. Therefore correcting the misalignment can help improve the post-injury symptoms.
- Meniere's disease
This is a vestibular condition that has tinnitus as one of its primary symptoms. This condition has been shown to improve with upper cervical care with one study of 136 out of 139 Meniere’s patients showing significant improvement in symptoms. Take a look at our other blog on this condition https://www.topchiropractic.co.uk/what-is-menieres-disease/
It is clear that if you are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus then an examination of the upper cervical spine is important in understanding the root cause of the problem. If you are suffering and would to understand more about upper cervical care, please feel free to contact the office.
External resource: https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/