Can Physical Therapy help Tinnitus?

Can Physical Therapy help 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.

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.

Somatosensory Tinnitus is the type of tinnitus that can improve with comprehensive Physical Therapy..

What characteristics can mean a better outcome with Physical Therapy?

There are a few characteristics that has been shown in research that mean better outcomes for patients with somatosensory tinnitus. The following items that exhibit the most improvement are from Cote et al 2019 :

  1. manifestation of the tinnitus was recent

  2. the tinnitus does not increase with loud noise exposure

  3. there is no family history of tinnitus

  4. no medication seems to increase symptoms and

  5. tinnitus modulations are triggered by somatic testing consisting of neck contractions (resistance of pressure applied to the forehead by the examiner).

How does Physical Therapy help Tinnitus?

Muscular problems of the head and neck regions, neck pain, and a decrease in cervical mobility are frequently reported to be present in tinnitus cases. Physical Therapists with training and expertise in the head and neck region address muscular problems with:

  1. Postural Education

  2. Trigger point deactivation by ischemic compression and/or dry needling

  3. Mobilization and/or manipulation of the cervical and thoracic spine joints

  4. Stretches and strengthening exercises for the neck and jaw

  5. Relaxation techniques for the jaw and neck

  6. Ergonomic advice if a relationship is noticed with your job

  7. Use of modalities in clinic or teach you how to use at home, if necessary. These can include transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, and laser.

A recent exploratory study showed that a multimodal physiotherapy program is effective in decreasing the severity of tinnitus (Cote et al 2019). This was an echo of an earlier study by Michiels et al 2016. These authors found a positive effect of a multimodal cervical physiotherapy treatment in individuals with somatosensory tinnitus (tinnitus of cervocogenic causes). In their study, 53% of the treated participants benefited from a significant decrease in the severity of their tinnitus.

If you are suffering from somatosensory tinnitus and need advice, consultation or treatment, feel free to contact us.

Tinnitus Treatment