Will treatment to my jaw help tinnitus?

Tinnitus Relief
Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is a common symptom that can have many different etiologies.Tinnitus is called somatosensory (or somatic) tinnitus if it is influenced by the neck (cervical) or jaw (TMJ).  In fact, 12–43% of patients with subjective tinnitus fall under one or both of these categories!

A few diagnostic factors that your tinnitus could be arising from your jaw or neck are:

– Modulation of tinnitus with movements of or pressure on the neck or jaw
– Modulation of tinnitus by clenching the teeth
– Modulation of tinnitus during specific postures or movements
– Simultaneous increase of pain in the neck or jaw and tinnitus
– Temporal coincidence of the onset of pain complaints in the jaw and tinnitus

I find that treatments to the jaw in addition to the neck (i.e. a comprehensive approach), yields the best outcomes and relief for those suffering from tinnitus.  These treatments show positive results on tinnitus severity, loudness, and annoyance. In fact, it can be a game changer for those who have tinnitus and have tried everything else!

Moreover, a recent medial study identified prognostic indicators that can predict a positive outcome after multidisciplinary orofacial treatment in patients with temporomandibular-related somatic tinnitus. Van der Wal 2020 were able to identify three prognostic indicators for a positive treatment effect.

Here are the three factors:
1. Female Gender
2. Shorter duration of symptoms.
3. Higher initial score on the Tinnitus Questionnaire somatic subscale

How I interpret this study:
1. From you all at home, it doesn’t mean my males do not get better!I have many men that get great relief as there are many factors that can contribute to a prognosis.

2. The length of time with symptoms was found to be correlated with successful treatment.The longer the symptoms, the lower the success.I typically like to see my patients within 3 months of symptoms but have had success with some who have had for over a year!

3. The Tinnitus Questionnaire can be used by your healthcare provider to assess tinnitus annoyance.  This is similar to some questions that may be asked when you come in for an evaluation.  The somatic subscale specifically asks questions concerning issues with the cervical spine and temporomandibular joint.
The somatic subscale consists of the following three statements:
(1) The noises sometimes give me a pain in the ear or head,
(2) Because of the noises, I have tension in the muscles of my head and neck, and
(3) The noises sometimes produce a bad headache.

If you are suffering from tinnitus and think there is a jaw and/or neck reason for your symptoms, please contact us for a consultation.We tailor our treatments to each patient’s individual needs that usually involve manual and exercise therapy to the neck and jaw and possibly referral out for an occlusal splint.

You may also have popping, clicking or pain with chewing and talking.Many of these factors can be improved with direct orofacial treatment by a skilled manual therapist and/or consultation with your dentist to see if an oral appliance is right for you.

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