Chiropractic adjustment for tinnitus

Posted in Head Pain Disorders on Aug 1, 2022

The alignment, motion, and stability of the top vertebrae in your spine PLUS your jaw may be one very important piece of the puzzle for solving tinnitus. As much as we wish we could tell you that there was some type of magic chiropractic adjustment for tinnitus (or another other treatment for tinnitus for that matter), it simply does not exist. However, in our 15 years is helping people with upper neck and temporomandibular disorders (TMJ), we have found that there is an interesting link between tinnitus and TMJ. Thus, a specific chiropractic adjustment may be quite helpful for people with tinnitus.

How can a chiropractic adjustment be helpful for tinnitus?

First, tinnitus really is like having a ghost swirling around in your brain. Specifically, what we are talking about is called somatosensory tinnitus, which is different from industrial nerve deafness. Somatosensory tinnitus is believed to be caused due to a process known as dysafferentation, which means that the normal sensory nerve receptors in your body end up “crossing a wire” somewhere in your brain and thus transmit information to the audio processing centres where they do not belong. The consequence is that people experience this persistent high-pitched, deafening, and even maddening noise.

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And despite having CT and MRI scans, everything appears normal. So with what we are about to describe the relationship between chiropractic adjustment for tinnitus, we are simply describing a very real possibility, not an absolute. The joints of your upper neck (C1 and C2 vertebrae) are extremely dense with what are known as joint mechanoreceptors, which detect physical movement and pressure. The same is also said about your TMJ. 

Interestingly, the alignment of your TMJ affects the alignment and motion of your upper neck; and the alignment of your upper neck affects the motion of your TMJ. So there is a criss-cross relationship here. The really important thing to note is that these nerve endings actually transmit not just to the pain centres of the brain, but also to the auditory centres. Therefore, tinnitus may actually be one of the consequences of having a TMJ or upper neck misalignment. So especially if you experience other symptoms associated with a problem in your upper neck - headaches, migraines, dizziness, vertigo, neck pain, shoulder pain - then a chiropractic adjustment may very well be helpful not just for your tinnitus, but for helping your body heal.

How long does a chiropractic adjustment for tinnitus take to work?

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Here is where it gets tricky (and to be completely forthright, if tinnitus was not a tricky thing, someone way smarter than we would have been able to figure it out for you a long time ago). It is our experience that when tinnitus is involved that it usually takes more than a single chiropractic adjustment. Yes, some people do experience almost instant relief, which is wonderful. However, it is our experience that most people who experience tinnitus have more than one thing going on with their neck, TMJ, and body. In addition, stress often plays a major part in it.

(Note: stress is not the sole cause of tinnitus. If that were true, everyone who has stress would experience tinnitus. Instead, we contend that stress is something that simply triggers or makes tinnitus worse). So, we use the analogy of unparalleled parking your car when you may have only a few centimetres on either side. You can’t simply slide out with a single move. It involved quite a bit of back and forth to get out of the situation. Similarly, if a chiropractic adjustment for tinnitus may have the opportunity to work, it is usually a process. Just as you can’t go to the gym just once and expect to be fit and healthy, you can’t realistically expect to see a chiropractor once and expect your tinnitus to be gone. Oftentimes, when things are really compressed, it also requires more than just a chiropractic adjustment for tinnitus to help as well. Frequently, it is necessary to get a neuromuscular dentist involved to help decompress your TMJ.

The upper cervical chiropractic adjustment for tinnitus

In order to be as precise and gentle as possible when working with the upper neck, a unique approach that many people do not know about is known as upper cervical specific chiropractic. Unlike general spinal manipulation, upper cervical is a specific division of general chiropractic that does not use any stretching, twisting, or neck cracking in order to restore the normal alignment and motion through the upper neck. The process begins with a physical and neurological assessment first to determine if you may have an issue with your upper neck where a specific chiropractic adjustment may be helpful for your tinnitus. If so, a series of detailed x-rays images help show the exact location, direction, and degree of misalignment in your neck.

Not unlike getting a custom-cut key to fit in just the right lock, upper cervical chiropractic then gives a precise adjustment designed just for you to maximise the chance to release the pressure in this area. By doing so, the principle is that when the C1 and C2 vertebrae are moving the way that they are supposed to, your brain is not continuously bombarded with faulty nerve signals, and thus the sensation or sound of tinnitus has the opportunity to go away on its own.

At Atlas Health Australia, our focus is on helping people with disorders of the upper neck so that they can get back to enjoying the things in life that matter most to them. Our practice is located in North Lakes (north Brisbane) to serve people not only in southeast Queensland but from across Australia. If you would like to speak with one of our doctors to find out if upper cervical care may be right for you, we offer a 15-minute complimentary over-the-phone consultation. Click the Contact Us link at the top of this page, or call us direct at 07 3188 9329.

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Hölzl M, Behrmann R, Biesinger E, et al Selected ENT symptoms in functional disorders of the upper cervical spine and temporomandibular joints. HNO. 2019 Mar;67(Suppl 1):1-9. doi: 10.1007/s00106-019-0610-1.

Michiels S, Van de Heyning P, Truijen S, et al. Does multi-modal cervical physical therapy improve tinnitus in patients with cervicogenic somatic tinnitus? Man Ther. 2016 Dec;26:125-131. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2016.08.005. Epub 2016 Aug 26.

Ralli M, Altissimi G, Turchetta R, et al. Somatosensory Tinnitus: Correlation between Cranio-Cervico-Mandibular Disorder History and Somatic Modulation. Audiol Neurootol. 2016;21(6):372-382. doi: 10.1159/000452472. Epub 2017 Jan 19.

Ralli M, Greco A, Turchetta R, et al. Somatosensory tinnitus: Current evidence and future perspectives. J Int Med Res. 2017 Jun;45(3):933-947. doi: 10.1177/0300060517707673. Epub 2017 May 28.

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