Treating Tinnitus and Ear Sounds
Elimination of Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus) and Related Conditions
Tinnitus is a condition characterized by noises in the ears or head. The sounds may include ringing, buzzing, hissing, rushing water, roaring, the sound of a jet airplane, etc.
Studies have shown that close to half of the people suffering with tinnitus have a dysfunction of the muscles and joints of the head and face, commonly referred to as “TMJ.” The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint in front of the ear which allows us to speak, chew, swallow, kiss, smile and exhibit normal facial expressions. Almost half of the patients who have TMJ dysfunctions have tinnitus as one of their symptoms and in these patients, success rates in eliminating these ear sounds approach 90%.
In certain cases, tinnitus may be a result of spasm of a tiny muscle (called the stapedius) in the middle ear. This spasm may cause a slight vibration which is heard within the ear as a ringing, buzzing or hissing sound. In addition, dysfunction of other muscles, such as the tensor veli palati, may prevent the Eustachian tube an air passage connecting the middle ear to the throat) from functioning normally, causing fullness and pressure behind the ear drum.
Conditions commonly referred to as “TMJ,” “TMD,” “TM Joint Dysfunction Syndrome,” etc., are complex dysfunctions of muscles, ligaments and joints involving the head, face and neck. These conditions are typically caused by injuries such as falls, automobile accidents, trauma at birth, etc. It is very common for onset of symptoms to be delayed for months or years, thereby leading the individual to believe that the symptoms merely started on their own.
For many patients, tinnitus is accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- Face pain
- Eye pain
- Pressure in the ears
- Clicking noises or pain when opening or closing the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Burning tongue
- Frequent sore throats
We have found that patients who have tinnitus as one of their symptoms, experience an elimination of their ear sounds following treatment in the vast majority of cases. However, patients who have tinnitus without any other symptoms, are relatively unlikely to experience improvement with treatment of the type discussed below. Since approximately half of the people who experience tinnitus also have other symptoms, a major proportion of tinnitus sufferers can eliminate the source of their frustration.
Many assume that stress is the cause of these conditions. However, stress makes virtually any dysfunction worse. If a person has a heart problem, under stress, they are more likely to have a heart attack. Similarly, a person with a stomach ulcer, dysfunction of the muscles of the head or even a broken leg, are likely to feel worse stomach pain, headaches or leg pain respectively, as a result of stress. Certainly, this does not mean that stress was the cause of these conditions.
Treatment commonly employs procedures which help stimulate muscles and joints to heal and function normally, decrease spasm, remove toxic waste products, and increase blood flow and nutrition to the affected areas. In rare cases, surgery to the affected tissues (not involving the ears) may be employed.
Over the last few decades, we have come a long way in diagnosing and treating temporomandibular joint dysfunctions, and accompanying symptoms such as tinnitus.
However, there’s one additional point to keep in mind. Time is of the essence. Our success rate in treating tinnitus and the vast majority of other conditions is over 90%, but unlike the other problems I mentioned, such as headaches or facial pain, the success rate for tinnitus drops as time passes.
Click here to see an article on this subject published by The American Tinnitus Association.
“I can’t believe that after having such severe headaches and ringing in my ears for so long, all the symptoms disappeared completely. The pain was so terrible, that I found it difficult to read and it interfered with my school work. I truly thank everyone at the Center who contributed to my success!” – Shakenya M.