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Physical Therapy for Tinnitus

Did you know that the ringing in your ears may be helped with physical therapy intervention? Tinnitus is the perception of ringing in the ears in the absence of an external sound or stimulus. It can cause significant distress and impact the quality of life, making day to day tasks such as work duties, sleeping or having a conversation feel very difficult. There are many causes and contributions of tinnitus such as hearing loss, medications, head injuries or exposure to loud noise. However, it can also be caused by musculoskeletal dysfunction of the cervical spine and/or the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Treatment of these dysfunctions through physical therapy intervention have been shown to reduce or eliminate tinnitus.

Typical physical therapy treatment and progression for tinnitus may include cervical and

temporomandibular joint mobilizations for healthier, symmetrical movement of these joints, in addition to soft tissue mobilization and trigger point release of the cervical and TMJ musculature. This is combined with corrective exercises and stretches of the cervical spine and shoulder musculature.

Postural re-education and training play a crucial role in the treatment of tinnitus as poor posture places substantial stress and strain on the muscles and joints of the cervical spine and jaw. It is also essential to learn appropriate sleeping positions for adequate support in addition to proper ergonomics at home or at the workstation to change poor postural habits in certain environments.

Talk with your doctor or your physical therapist about physical therapy intervention if you are experiencing tinnitus as this may significantly reduce or resolve your symptoms.

Hannah Nicholson, PT, DPT


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