Tinnitus May Actually Be A Pain In The Neck (literally)!

Tinnitus is a constant ringing, clicking, whooshing (like water), and other similar sounds being audibly heard by the person but one that only they can hear. It’s characterized by a consistent ringing or pressure in the ears and is caused by a disruption of the inner ear’s delicate balance. Tinnitus, also known as abnormal sounds in the ear is a medical condition that can often be alleviated/cured but many don’t take steps when they get the first signs and find themselves with a permanent condition that could have been avoided. How? There are several ways but let’s get into how having problems throughout several systems in the body including metabolic rate, musculoskeletal or neurological systems can affect or even create the problem in the first place.

Psychological issues and prescription pharmaceuticals can also cause it very easily due to the way they change the body’s chemical balance. Tinnitus, although it seems like itself is a condition, is really just a symptom of another problem or dysfunction.

Although the symptoms of tinnitus won’t likely harm you by itself, it’s often the maddening frustration caused by the sound that won’t go away and is very annoying to hear ALL THE TIME. It can disrupt your ability to concentrate, think, or even operate heavy machinery (safely). The two underlying conditions that cause stress (which in turn makes it worse and can be damaging to you physically over time) are the ringing in the ears but more so the condition that caused/is causing the tinnitus needs to be addressed immediately and may hold the cure.

If you injure your ears (physically or too much loud destructive noise and the like) tinnitus can be a temporary or permanent ailment. Both are treatable by changing your diet, exercising and overall maintaining good health. By changing your diet you may eliminate the problem all together, but many forms of tinnitus require more attention. Losing your hearing as you age often means you will suffer some tinnitus, not necessarily all the time but depending on the state of your inner ear you may suffer from more or less ringing in the ears.

Externally caused tinnitus symptoms are often called Somatic tinnitus. This is where things outside the auditory system cause the problem such as a neck injury. The muscle tension and nerve problems can cause tinnitus in the same way an infection does but could be more serious.

There are trigger points that are essentially formed knots in the muscle systems that are formed by consistent tension/stress on the body.  These “isolated spasms” of muscle tissue/fiber and the connective tissue surrounding the muscle (myofascial) are usually the culprit of tinnitus symptoms.

When the front and side muscles of the neck start to develop these isolated spasms (knots) they can cause dysfunction to the stepedius muscle. This muscle controls movement in the 3 inner ear bones that make hearing possible. The muscles involved in tinnitus (caused in the neck’s knots) are called SCM (Sternocleidomastoideus muscles). This system of muscles often develops tinnitus due to bad posture over a long period of time creating knots.

When you sit with bad posture the muscles in the front of the neck have to work much harder to maintain the heads forward facing position vs straight down. One of the most common fixes is to have a Myofascial release (specific massage). This condition is most common with whiplash, concussion, and injuries that create muscle spasms in the neck. Again, tinnitus is not the actual injury but rather the symptom of another injury.

To fight tinnitus correctly you have to find what is causing it and deal with that first. If you’ve been in an accident and your neck or shoulder muscles were affected, you may hear ringing in the ears but the symptom is likely the muscles and knots causing problems throughout the system. Much like a headache rarely hurts where the actual pain is; tinnitus is often the symptom of another ailment that needs attention. So that sound in your head/ears could be telling you that you have a pain in the neck!