What is Tinnitus?
- Tinnitus is sound you hear in one or both ears or “in your head” that does not come from an external source.
- It can sound like a ringing, hissing, buzzing, whistling, clicking, roaring or whooshing.
- Tinnitus can be loud or mild, constant or intermittent.
- It is unique to every individual. It can be minor and non interfering in your life or it can be extremely intrusive causing inability to focus, concentrate or sleep lending to high stress levels.
There are two main types of tinnitus:
1. Subjective tinnitus:
- Can only be heard by you.
- This is the most common type of tinnitus.
- It can sound like a ringing, hissing, buzzing, whistling, clicking or roaring.
- Common causes include exposure to loud noise, ageing (presbycusis), ototoxic medications, Meniere’s disease, cervical pathology, temporomandibular disorder (TMD), allergies, acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma), otosclerosis etc
2. Objective tinnitus:
- Can be heard by another person by using a stethoscope.
- This is a much rarer tinnitus.
- It is a pulsing sound and so is called pulsatile tinnitus, often in sync with your heartbeat.
- It is usually described as a whooshing sound.
- Common causes include vascular abnormalities and should always be assessed by a doctor and may need a vascular consultation.
What should I do if I suffer from tinnitus?
You should see your doctor to assess your tinnitus and have a full ear examination. If all appears normal, then your symptoms may be as a result of muscle tension or joint stiffness of your neck (cervical spine), jaw (TMJ) or shoulder joints. This is called somatosensory tinnitus. This is the type of tinnitus that physiotherapy can effectively treat.
What happens if I contact East Cork Physiotherapy, Balance and Acupuncture Clinic reporting tinnitus after my GP has checked my ears?
In order to help you we first do a free telephone screening by trained staff prior to any initial assessment or treatment. This is to discern if you are suitable for physiotherapy management of your tinnitus or not. If, following this telephone call screening, we feel you can benefit from physiotherapy, we will then schedule a suitable appointment.
- Physiotherapy assessment:
At the initial physiotherapy consultation we will take a detailed history of your complaint and any other relevant past medical history. We will then objectively assess your neck, jaw, and shoulders to see if moving, tensing or palpating them has a positive or negative impact on your tinnitus by decreasing or increasing its volume or tone. Depending on the results from that objective assessment, a treatment plan will be drawn up and commenced.
- Physiotherapy treatment:
Following the assessment we will treat the offending area/ areas with physiotherapy which can include mobilising your neck, jaw or shoulder joints, stretching your tight muscles, releasing tension in tense muscles, instructing you in a self treatment home exercise programme and guiding you in how to manage your tinnitus.