Do you have a ringing noise causing you pain in your ears? You most likely have Tinnitus!

Nicole Davies – Elite Myotherapist

Tinnitus can sound like ringing, hissing, humming, buzzing whistling or water running in your ear. It can be so subtle that you only notice it in a quiet room, or so loud it’s like having a jack-hammer inside your head. The key to treating this condition is understanding pain and how to treat pain.

It affects 20% of the world’s population and can be caused by or related to:

  • Damage to the structures in the ear and hearing loss occurs due to due to loud noise exposure, aging, earwax, Meniere’s disease, and problems with the structures or sensory cells that process hearing.
  • Injuries or diseases affecting neural structures such as a head injury, whiplash, multiple sclerosis and several neurological diseases.
  • Infections such as that of the middle ear (otitis media), Lyme disease, meningitis or syphilis.
  • Drugs can also be a cause such as aspirin derivatives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics, diuretics, antidepressants, oral contraceptives, heart medications and chemotherapy drugs.
  • Somatosensory: Trigger points in muscles of the face and neck, most common muscles responsible include the masseter, lateral pterygoid, sternocleidomastoid or upper trapezius.

A variety of treatments may be beneficial including postural training, relaxation practice, regular stretching exercises, manual therapy, and heat therapy.

Trigger points in the Masseter can refer to the temporomandibular joint, jaw, eyebrow, deep into the ear and sinus pain. It can also cause toothache in either the upper or lower molars, as well as hypersensitivity of the teeth to pressure and temperature. Some common ways to cause trigger points in the masseter muscle are: jaw clenching or grinding, chewing gum habitually, nail biting, prolonged dental procedures, a forward head posture, mouth breathing, emotional stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

The lateral pterygoids help to open and protrude the jaw. These relatively weak muscles are easily strained in opposing the powerful masseter and temporalis muscles that close the jaw.

The pterygoids commonly develop trigger points which in turn cause pain and/or clicking in the TMJ joint. They may block drainage from the maxillary sinus causing more pain. They are also linked to tinnitis, and cause lateral deviation on opening the jaw. There may be entrapment of the buccal nerve causing numbness / tingling in the cheek. Medial pterygoids produce diffuse pain in the mouth involving the floor of the nose, tongue, throat and hard palate; pain below and behind the TMJ joint, pain and/or stuffiness of the ear, difficulty swallowing, lateral deviation and possibly pain on opening the jaw.

The sternocleidomastoid, or SCM, has two divisions, the sternal division primarily leads to pain above the eyebrow that spreads across the cheek and into the jaw. Pain may also appear at the back and top of the head. Trigger points in the clavicular division produce pain that’s more concentrated in and around the ear, as well as frontal headaches. Because of its intimate involvement with brain stem and the vagus nerve, the SCM muscle of the neck produces a long list of neurological and pain symptoms which appear primarily in the head and face but which may also appear as nausea, motion sickness, balance problems, commonly mistaken for migraine, sinus headache, inner-ear problems, and trigeminal neuralgia.

The upper trapezius refers a ‘fish-hook’ pain pattern up the back side of the neck to the head, and around the temple to the eye. In addition to lower jaw pain and temporal headaches, these trigger points can cause intense pain behind and below the ear that extends down to where the neck meets the shoulder.

This is especially common in people who work at computers all day and need correct computer posture, as sustained elevation of the shoulders can produce and exacerbate trigger points in the trapezius. Some examples include carrying heavy bags or purses, balancing phones between head and shoulder, or imbalances and strain by tight sternocleidomastoid.

Myotherapy focuses on these specific points within muscles during treatment sessions to help you reduce your pain and become symptom free.