Can Kinesio taping help Somatosensory Tinnitus?

Can Kinesio taping help Somatosensory Tinnitus?

Somatosensory tinnitus is a subtype of the larger disorder of tinnitus, which is defined as an annoying perception of sound that is heard without any actual external acoustic stimulation. Actually, somatosensory tinnitus can make up 65% of cases of this specific subgroup.

This basically means that in some individuals, the pitch and loudness of the tinnitus can be modulated or adjusted from movements of the neck, jaw, eyes and turning the head.

There are many strategies to help with this type of condition, including neck and jaw stretches and strengthening, myofascial work, joint mobilizations and manipulations. These are usually provided by a clinician skilled and trained in treatment of the neck, such as a physical therapist.

We have written on this topic many times before and you can find other articles here.

A common modality that we see in our office for many conditions from patients is the self-treatment of Kinesio Taping. Many have tried this approach even before arriving to get my care due to the ease of purchasing on the web and following video instructions.

Kinesio taping (KT) is a therapeutic taping technique. Even though its effectiveness for many conditions is controversial, a recent systematic review showed it to relieve tension in the neck area, lifts trigger points, provides mobility to the tissue, and improves blood and lymphatic flow for short term. (Kaldron et al 2013).

Figure from Atan et al 2020.

More recently, Atan et al 2020 examined the effectiveness of Kinesio taping in the treatment of somatosensory tinnitus through a randomized controlled trial. The attached picture from the study shows the application sites.

This location of the tape was applied to the following muscles:

  • Descending fibers of the Upper Trapezius

  • Sternocleidomastoid (SCM)

  • Levator Scapulae

The results of this randomized controlled trial demonstrate that Kinesio Tape applied to the sternocleidomastoid (SCM), upper trapezius, and levator scapulae muscles for four weeks is effective in treating somatosensory tinnitus associated with neck complaints compared to sham taping.

You may ask what the sham tape is:

The authors describe it as the following, “placebo taping method that was considered to be ineffective (not from insertion to origin points of a muscle), with the same material without tension and with the neck in a neutral position.

Just as this post mentions above, many patients come to us with multiple conditions, including neck pain and tinnitus, even after self application of Kinesio Taping. This randomized control trial shows it can be effective compared to sham taping, which is great, but its not the best treatment based off of our clinical experience.

I hope you are able to achieve some relief with your symptoms and feel free to try techniques based off of medical research as we described in this post. If you have already tried this or looking for more specific approaches, feel free to contact us for consultation or even try our 14-day Tinnitus Relief Plan.

Tinnitus Treatment