Tinnitus is a condition where one perceives a ringing sound in one or both ears in the absence of external auditory stimulation. It is most common described as “ringing in my ears”. Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of conditions such as ear infections, Meniere’s disease, vascular diseases, neurological disorders, structural dysfunction within the inner ear, and by musculoskeletal disorders. It is also highly influenced by the presence of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. Tinnitus is a symptom of a variety of diagnoses but is not considered an independent diagnosis by itself.
So can it be treated with physical therapy? That depends on the cause and certain types can be treated effectively by physical therapy. As described by Latifpour and colleagues in 2009, there can be a link between tinnitus and musculoskeletal disorders such as joint stiffness and myofascial trigger points. Presence of these impairments can cause somatosensory changes to the area around the ear, creating the perception of ringing in the ear.
Common musculoskeletal impairments that can be associated with tinnitus include
-stiffness or hypermobility of cervical spine joints
-myofascial trigger points to the sub occipitals, upper trapezius, levator scapulae, or sternocleidomastoid muscles
-Presence of forward head posture and forward rounded shoulders
Addressing these impairments through physical therapy may help reduce or eliminate the perception of tinnitus. There is strong evidence to support the use of physical therapy to treat tinnitus that is of musculoskeletal origin.
But there are many other causes of tinnitus that require the care of other specialists so be sure to choose a physical therapist who is trained in differential diagnosis and who can adequately screen you and make the right referral if needed. All the physical therapists at Mend have done extensive training for medical screening, making this clinic a safe first step in the process of treating your tinnitus. Schedule an evaluation at Mend today.