Somatosensory Tinnitus

What Is Somatosensory Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of noise in the absence of sound. The noise can be a whistling, humming, buzzing, grinding or hissing sound. Tinnitus can be caused by damage to nerve cells, an interaction of the ear with physical structures like blood vessels, or it can be causes by muscle or joint dysfunction. The key characteristic of somatosensory tinnitus is that it is modulated by physical contact or movement.

Somatosensory tinnitus has been shown to be the cause of the perceived sound in up to 68% of cases. The exact mechanism by which somatosensory tinnitus occurs is unknown and believed to be due to a fault in the cochlear or trigeminal nerve, or at the dorsal cochlear nucleus of the brain. It is believed that physiotherapy treatments and home exercises program alter the input from the trigemnial nerve into the dorsal cochlear nucleus, and modulate the tinnitus.

What Are The Symptoms Of Somatosensory Tinnitus?

Somatosensory Tinnitus causes symptoms that include tinnitus that can be changed/altered with:
Head movements
Jaw Movement
Resisted Head/Jaw Movements
Palpation of Trigger Points in the Head and Neck

Somatosensory Tinnitus is also associated with head/neck pain or previous injury to the head/neck.

If your tinnitus is constant and unaltering it maybe Otic Tinnitus, while tinnitus that the in sync with your heart beat maybe linked to your cardiovascular system (Pulsatile Tinnitus). We do not treat Otic or Pulsatile Tinnitus, and you should contact your General Practitioner as your first medical professional to assess these type of tinnitus.

How Does Physiotherapy Help?

Through a comprehensive history and a series of tests that involve moving the head and jaw into specific orientations. These tests aim to determine whether the tinnitus is causes by a muscle or joint in the head and neck. We will also check for any damage to your vestibular system which maybe causing the tinnitus.

Based on findings from the exam, patients will undergo a series of treatments aimed at rehabbing the cause of the musculoskeletal dysfunction. On treating the musculoskeletal dysfunction we should see a change in the tinnitus characterises. We will then provide you with a home exercises program to help further your rehab and reduce the odds of a reoccurrence of the tinnitus.

After the Session:
Symptoms of somatosensory tinnitus usually settle over a period of few weeks. After the session you should start to see some improvement in your tinnitus symptoms, a personalised home exercise program will help to further reduce the symptoms.

Your physiotherapist will provide a structured program with exercises to complete at home. 73% of patients see a significant improvement in their symptoms with treatment. On average patients will find significant or complete resolution of their symptoms following two or three sessions. You will be provided with a home exercises program to maintain the benefits of your treatment and to reduce the likelihood of you symptoms returning.

Do you have any questions about Vestibular Physiotherapy?
If you have any questions regarding Vestibular Physiotherapy that we have not answered on this website, or any questions about your injury, please contact us.
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