Cervical tinnitus: when hearing problems are caused by tense muscles in the neck.


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Have you ever experienced pain in the cervical region at the same time as hearing problems such as tinnitus? This could be cervical tinnitus. This article will examine the symptoms, causes and the main treatments for cervical tinnitus.

Remember that tinnitus is the perception of a high-pitched sound, such as a rustling or buzzing sound, that has no obvious external origin. This sound may be intermittent or persistent, with intensity varying from mild to severe, and may affect one or both ears.

Basically, it is an anomaly in the way the brain processes auditory signals, which can be caused by problems in the ear itself (known as otogenic causes) or by external factors, as in this case, cervical tension.

What is cervical tinnitus and how does it manifest itself?

Cervical tinnitus is a disorder that manifests as an annoying buzzing or sound in the ear, often linked to problems in the neck or cervical spine area. Unlike common tinnitus, which is generally associated with hearing problems, cervical tinnitus highlights the possible correlation between the auditory system and the musculoskeletal system of the neck. In fact, the underlying causes of cervical tinnitus are related to the muscles and nerves of the cervical tract, which contract and become inflamed.

In particular:

1. Certain cervical muscles close to the ear: the sternocleidomastoid muscle is an example of a cervical muscle that can cause tinnitus when it is very tense. This muscle is located close to the auricle.

2. Nerve regions involved in cervical tract inflammation: the first three vertebrae of the neck are connected to the nerve regions of the brain tract, which are responsible for vision, hearing, the autonomic nervous system, and more. When this area is afflicted with problems, the nerve centres can be activated, causing muscle-tensive headaches, lurching sensations, and tinnitus, which are true neurological symptoms.

3. Jaw malocclusion problems: it is easy to understand the connection between tinnitus and jaw problems, such as malocclusion, as the jaw is in close proximity to the ears. In addition, there is a ligament called the disco-malleolar ligament that acts as a connection between the jaw and the inner ear.

Symptoms that may indicate cervical tinnitus

People with Cervical Tinnitus may experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • A continuous or intermittent sound in the ear, which can be described as a buzzing, whistling, rustling or similar sound.
  • Sensation of rigidity or tension in the neck muscles.
  • Sensation of pain in the neck or neck area.
  • Experience of dizziness or instability in balance.
  • Difficulty or limitation in neck movements.

The problem often originates from tense muscles in the neck.

The neck is one of the most delicate parts of the human body and it is common for many people to experience neck pain. When suffering from tinnitus, it is also common to experience tension in the cervical region. This tension originates in the neck and can affect the functioning of the cranial nerves, causing the hearing disorder. Sudden changes in temperature lead to a stiff neck. The causes of cervical tinnitus can be many, but the most common include:

  • Lifting heavy weights during physical activity.
  • Poor posture for long periods of time.
  • Incorrect neck position during sleep.
  • Previous neck trauma or injury.
  • General body fatigue.
  • Arthritis in the cervical vertebrae.
  • Whiplash.

Sometimes, a damage to the spinal column, such as a blow or a fall on the back, can cause a change in the pressure of fluid in the inner ear, known as labyrinthine fluid, which in turn can generate cervical tinnitus. Another cause of tinnitus is often associated with the involuntary contraction of muscles in the middle ear, which send incorrect signals along nerve pathways. These signals can be interpreted by the brain as audible sounds, thus generating tinnitus and sometimes even vertigo due to overstimulation of the auditory nerves.

What are the remedies for cervical tinnitus?

Treatment of Cervical Tinnitus is aimed at managing both the symptoms of tinnitus and the discomfort in the neck. Some common treatment options include:

  • Improving the posture one assumes in daily activities.
  • Stretching, to relax and stretch retracted muscles and release contractures.
  • Undergoing massage and physiotherapy to decompress the muscles in the inflamed area and relieve accumulated tension.

It is always essential to consult a specialist promptly when cervical tinnitus is suspected, in order to identify the best treatment strategy.

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