Case Study: Barry
In past blogs I made reference to the relationship between jaw problems, TMD and the occurrence of Tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Though I don’t believe that the majority of Tinnitus problems relate to the jaw, there are unquestionably a number of specific Tinnitus complaints that occur as a result of muscle problems in the jaw and upper neck.
The relationship exists as a result of the shared nerve pathways between structures in and associated with the ear and those of the jaw and neck. Tense, inflamed, and hyperactive jaw and neck muscles can adversely impact the Eustachian tube, the tympanic membrane, and the malleus bone, all critical ear structures. In the presence of ongoing TMD problems, aggressive clenching, night bruxism, neck tension, and ear symptoms inclusive of tinnitus can therefore surface. The typical Tinnitus patterns that my patients describe are often present on awakening, vary in intensity from day to day and at times are influenced by opening and closing the mouth, chewing, and jaw/head positions.
Recently Barry, 55 years old, came to the office concerned about his escalating Tinnitus. He was referred from his ENT doctor, as are many of my Tinnitus patients. The tenderness of his jaw, neck, and facial muscles, along with his admitted history of teeth clenching indicated muscles that were in crisis and potentially a driving force behind the Tinnitus.
I starting him on treatment including a combination of muscle injections, dry needling techniques, self-muscle massage, and an oral appliance. This has reduce Barry’s Tinnitus by at least 50%. As a result he is no longer using the Xanax on a daily basis, something that he had come to rely on for a number of months! With the optimism that has been created I will likely continue to see Barry for another month or two to reinforce the achieved benefits.
If your Tinnitus search has reached the end of the line, exploration of a possible muscle origin may not be a bad option.
Dr. Donald Tanenbaum is a specialist with offices in New York City and Long Island, NY. He is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat facial pain associated with jaw problems, TMJ, referred pain, nerve pain, and migraines. Find out more at www.tanenbaumtmj.com