Can I have both headaches and tinnitus at the same time?

Can I have both headaches and tinnitus at the same time?

Great question! Let me break it down with the following blog. Hang with me as we have to define some concepts!

First, tinnitus:

Tinnitus is defined is the perception of sound in the absence of an acoustic external stimulus. To a person, this correlates to a bothersome auditory perception of noise.

There can be many reasons why an individual has these symptoms. A subtype of subjective tinnitus is called somatosensory tinnitus.

Second, Headaches:

Headaches can be a symptom of various diseases, some with sinister pathologies. These type of pathologies could be vascular or central and anyone having constant headaches should seek out professional medical care.

However, there are many other diagnoses under the realm of headaches. Without diving into all of the subtypes, many patients have migraines, cluster headaches, tension-type headaches, cervicogenic headaches. Many of these benefit from pharmacological treatments, but also, a thorough musculoskeletal exam can help rule in the cervical spine, vestibular and/or temporomandibular disorder (i.e. TMJ) as a potential culprit.

So, can I have headaches and tinnitus at the same time?

Several studies reveal a high prevalence of headache (26–56%) in children, adolescents and patients with tinnitus (Langguth et al 2017, Brunnberg et al 2008, Kim et al 2012). Headaches have also been recently suggested as an important co-factor for tinnitus subtyping (Langguth et al 2017, Lugo et al 2020).

Therefore, yes, you can have both tinnitus and headaches at the same time! For example in cervicogenic headaches —- the pathophysiologically states that the cervical afferents can impact both nuclei in the central nervous system that then give rise to other neurological centers that give rise to an interruption in normal signal. The mismatch of information can cause your symptoms of tinnitus and headaches.

Just like it is not uncommon for someone to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol that gives rise to heart disease —- it is not uncommon for a patient who has headaches and tinnitus to have comorbid symptoms!

We see this everyday in our practice —- and quite honestly, we see most individuals who do have somatosensory tinnitus have not only headaches, but also TMJ, dizziness and/or vertigo and neck pain. This is why it is important to seek out individuals who are able to examine and treat all systems!

What can be done to help me?

The actual origin of the symptoms is best determined by a medical professional, but if you haven’t had a thorough cervical, vestibular and/or TMJ examination —- which is not uncommon if only seen neurologists — then this could be a part of your solution.

We find an evaluation of muscular disorder in cervical region seems to be necessary for assessment and treatment of dizziness and tinnitus symptoms. If the evaluation can show cause-effect, then great, there are solutions to these problems! If not and the evaluation rules out the cervical spine, this is helpful too and can move on!

Physical Therapists play a major role in the prescription of exercise for treatment of headaches and neck conditions. We can examine the muscular and neural systems to figure out the source of symptoms (in this case, the neck / jaw / inner ear) and provide solutions of manual therapy , exercise and even vestibular therapy.

If you are looking for a physical therapist who specializes in these systems, feel free to contact us, click on one of our e-books above or sign up for an appointment to start your recovery!