Can inner ear problems be caused by Tinnitus?
What most people don’t know about inner ear problems and tinnitus?
What many people who suffer inner ear problems and tinnitus never realize is that there are different types with different causes!
There are two major categories:
- Sensorineural tinnitus
- Somatosensory tinnitus
Do you know which type you have? Has your tinnitus specialist ever explained the difference?
Because depending on which type you have, there may be a different underlying cause … and thus a different type of treatment that you need not just to treat the symptoms, but to actually address the underlying cause of your tinnitus.
If you are the type of person who prefers a natural approach to healthcare - without drugs or surgery, when possible - and if you are the type of person who wants the understand the underlying cause of your condition AND takes an active approach in maintaining your health and wellbeing, then this article is for you.
Why do my inner ear and tinnitus tests say that “everything is normal?”
The most well-known type of inner ear problem and tinnitus is “sensorineural tinnitus.”
Sensorineural tinnitus is a neurological disorder affecting the inner ear, balance sense organ, or even the brain itself. It is typically the result of nerve damage including prolonged exposure to loud noises (e.g., factory worker) or the sudden exposure to a single loud noise (e.g., gunshot).
In rarer cases, sensorineural tinnitus may also be the result of brain diseases such as cancer, infector or bleed. However, these types of conditions are easily visible on CT or MRI scans.
Also, many people who suffer inner ear problems and tinnitus have CT and MRI scans done … but their ENT or tinnitus specialist says that “The tests were all normal.” Or at best, your tests with an audiologist do show a loss of hearing or tinnitus, but they don’t know why.
This same frustration also includes people diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, vestibular migraines, or vestibular neuritis (aka labyrinthitis).
The other type of tinnitus and inner ear disorders
So how can that be possible that you are experiencing all these problems but the tests are normal?
It is possible that it is because your inner ear disorder and tinnitus are not the result of a discrete pathological condition or even the result of nerve damage, but because something is affecting the way that your brain is processing balance or auditory information.
Specifically, it may be because there is a PHYSICAL CAUSE that is affecting the way that your nerve system is working.
It is what is known as “somatosensory tinnitus.”
Think of it as static on a radio as the result of transmission interference. Somatosensory tinnitus is believed to be the result of a neuro-mechanical problem that affects the nerve signals that go to your brain.
The interference essentially overloads the sensory processing centers of your brain and spills over accidentally into the areas that normally process balance and auditory information.
The end result is a balance or “inner ear disorder” coupled with tinnitus … and when you have the brain CT and MRI scans, no one can see anything wrong.
And it may well be because the underlying cause of your inner ear disorder and tinnitus is coming from somewhere else.
… And of all places in your body, one of the most important areas that could be involved in the upper part of your neck.
The connection between tinnitus, inner ear problems, and your upper neck
The upper part of your neck is known as the upper cervical spine. It includes the atlas (C1) vertebra which supports the weight of your skull (4Kg) and protects your brainstem: and also the axis (C2) vertebra, which allows your to turn your head.
Your upper cervical spine is built completely different from the rest of your spine. It contains no interlocking joints and is essentially suspended by muscles and ligaments. This arrangement provides for a huge amount of flexibility. However, it also means that it is most susceptible to injury.
More on that in a moment.
The muscles in your upper neck contain a dense network of nerve receptors for balance and position sense, known as proprioceptors. Many of these nerve receptors make direct connections with the parts of your brain that are responsible for balance and auditory information.
Also, if you have even a slight injury in the upper part of your neck - even a 2mm misalignment affecting the normal center of gravity where your head sits on your atlas and axis - it may be enough to cause these nerve receptors to misfire.
The result is that the balance and auditory processing centers of your brain get bombarded with a tidal wave of abnormal information that essentially acts like static on a radio.
“Somatosensory” literally means that there is a mechanical problem in the body affecting the sensory part of your brain. This can include things like pain, touch, balance, sight and even hearing.
And when that happens - you guessed it! - it is possible that a balance issue or even tinnitus is the end result.
In my experience, problems like these in the upper neck and both common and insidious:
- These types of problems are common because the upper neck is the most fragile yet important area of your spine. So many people suffer injuries that affect the health of their neck, but because they don’t experience immediate or acute pain, they don’t do what needs to be done early enough to fix the problem.
- These types of problems are also insidious because the symptoms don’t usually appear for many months, years or even decades after the original injury happened! It is because your brain and body are designed to adapt to stress and other problems. However, they can only compensate for so long until something eventually gives. And when that happens, you slowly develop symptoms such as tinnitus that are attributed to “getting older” when the reality may that it is not you, but the underlying injury that has been there for so long that is the actual problem.
Upper cervical care, inner ear problems, and tinnitus
If you have already seen the ENT and tinnitus specialists but haven’t quite found what you are looking for, it may be time to take a different approach.
Especially if you are looking for something natural - something that allows your body to work as it is designed, to heal itself - then who you may be looking for is an upper cervical care doctor.
If you have not heard about upper cervical care, I am not surprised: there are fewer than 20 practitioners in all Australia!
An upper cervical care doctor is a trained chiropractor who has done additional study in the upper neck: the skull, atlas (C1) and axis (C2). Unlike general spinal manipulation, an upper cervical chiropractic doctor does NOT crack or twist the neck.
The approach is highly specific, scientific and uses only a light impulse to correct the alignment of the joints in your upper neck.
The difference is in the method of analysis that an upper cervical chiropractic doctor uses. The process begins with a physical and neurological assessment to determine if you do have a problem with the alignment of movement in your upper neck that could possibly be connected with your inner ears problems or somatosensory tinnitus,
If so, an upper cervical chiropractic doctor will take or refer you for a series of specialized 3D x-ray images.
These types of x-rays are different from standard medical x-rays, CTs or MRIs because they show the actual joints in your neck from angles that are different in every human begin. In other words, the images are custom-tailored for your own body structure.
The importance of this step is that upper cervical chiropractic doctors are able to diagnose problems with your neck that no one has been able to see before.
And with new information comes the possibility of a new treatment strategy for different results!
Plus, but knowing the exact direction and degree of misalignment in your upper neck, it is possible to correct these misalignments without ending much force at all. In fact, the Blair technique, which is the upper cervical chiropractic procedure we use in our office uses only the amount of force you would need to feel your pulse … and again, there is no cracking or twisting.
Upper cervical care, inner ear problems, and tinnitus
If you’re ready to take a different approach to help with your inner ear problems and tinnitus, then upper cervical care might be what you are looking for. It must be clear that Upper cervical care is not a treatment for inner ear problems or tinnitus directly.
It is a unique and powerful approach that can help restore function through the upper part of your neck. Nevertheless, what that happens, many people find that their own body is able to finally heal from the underlying issues that were producing their tinnitus.
In other words, relief may be possible!
As most people do at this point, you may have questions about your own condition. If so, we have an opportunity for you.
Our office provides a FREE 15-minute over-the-phone or Telehealth consultation with people like you experiencing tinnitus so that you can discuss your case with one of our upper cervical chiropractic doctors.
This way, you can also ask any questions you may have to decide if care may be right for you.
Our practice, Atlas Health Australia, is the premier upper cervical health center in Brisbane and leader in Blair upper cervical care throughout Australia.
Our principal chiropractor, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, is advanced certified by the Blair Chiropractic Society (USA) and is an international lecturer, author and recognized leader in the field of upper cervical care.
If you would like to schedule a no-obligation consultation with speak with Dr. Hannah directly, you can click the Contact Us link on this page, or call our office directly at 08 3188 9329.
Atlas Health Australia - “A passion for helping people live life again.”
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