Some people are all too familiar with an imposing sound that can't be blocked out or turned off. Such is the case with tinnitus and its incessant ringing or hissing. The issue has varying degrees of severity, just as it has a number of possible causes. It can be related to a direct auditory trauma (as Steve Martin discovered when he developed tinnitus after filming with guns for 1986's Three Amigos). It could also be due to tissue damage after a neck or head injury, an ear infection, a neurological disorder, or even stress. Your doctor will do their utmost to identify the cause of your tinnitus and will take appropriate action to limit its severity (ideally by addressing the underlying cause wherever possible). But can any other medical assistance be of assistance in managing the condition? In cases of chronic tinnitus where management becomes difficult, you might consider asking your doctor for a referral to a chiropractor. But how can a chiropractor help you to manage that irritating ringing in your ears?
The Suspected Causes
The benefits of chiropractic care to assist with diminishing the severity of your tinnitus will depend on the suspected causes of the condition, and this is why it can be prudent to discuss the matter with your doctor rather than seeking independent treatment. Your doctor can refer you, but if you have sought chiropractic care in the past, you might wish to go back to your preferred practitioner.
When tinnitus is exacerbated by a subluxation (misalignment) in your spine or upper neck, your chiropractor will attempt to rectify this by manipulating your spine or neck to achieve alignment. This process can be somewhat exploratory (with various parts of your spine and neck being addressed) if the subluxation is not evident on an x-ray.
Your Ear Muscles
Ideally, this alignment will have an effect on the performance of both your stapedius muscles and your tensor tympani muscles (both of which affect your hearing), essentially by adjusting the nerves that could be hindering the optimal behaviour of these muscles. This means that chiropractic assistance might only be suggested when there's a clear correlation between a physical injury and tinnitus, as chiropractic care can be beneficial for the healing process.
Chiropractic care should not be seen as a cure for your tinnitus, but in a number of cases, it can help to make this problematic condition infinitely more manageable.