Clients are always surprised when I tell them that I MAY be able to help them with their tinnitus. Are you surprised, too? Confession: Until a couple years ago, I would have been too.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Tinnitus involves the annoying sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present.” Some of the the most common sounds are:
The noise can be loud or soft, in one ear or both, and it may come and go. No matter how it manifests, it’s annoying. It can even interfere with the ability to concentrate or hear sounds if it’s loud enough.
Again, using the Mayo Clinic as my reference (because good lord, I don’t know anywhere near everything about tinnitus), the causes include:
You’ll notice that most of the items on the cause list would be way outside of a massage therapist’s scope of practice. However, there are 2 items on the list that we can help with… TMJD and neck injuries.
One thing the Mayo Clinic doesn’t mention as a cause of tinnitus is active trigger points. That’s right. Trigger points. That’s where we come in.
There are 3 muscles whose active trigger points can cause tinnitus:
Two of those muscles, the masseter and the lateral pterygoid, are located in your jaw, that is… your TMJ. The other one, the SCM, is located in the neck.
First, we all have trigger points. Those trigger points are usually latent, meaning they’re not active or symptomatic. It’s only when they become active that they cause problems. The main thing that causes trigger points to become active is muscle overload. Things like TMJD or neck injuries fall under the category of overload. So, if you clench your jaw or grind your teeth in response to stress, have TMJD, or injure your neck, those latent trigger points could easily become active. Those active trigger points could either cause tinnitus, or cause your tinnitus to become worse.
Will getting these trigger points worked out guarantee that your tinnitus will go away? No. But, seriously, if your tinnitus is as annoying as mine, isn’t it worth a shot? Seriously, I’m pretty sure the saying “silence is golden” must have been coined by someone with tinnitus.
PS – When I keep my neck and jaw trigger points under control, the high pitched buzzing that I hear all the time goes down to such a low volume that I can only hear when it’s really quiet.