What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus – the perception of sound without an external sound actually being present, is a chronic condition that ranges from annoying to debilitating. Tinnitus usually sounds like a ringing in the ears, but it can also be whistling, buzzing, clicking, or even musical noise. Whatever it sounds like to you, you’d probably be happy to get rid of your tinnitus.
Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant and can be experienced in one or both ears. While not a disease in and of itself, tinnitus is a symptom of some underlying disease or injury.
Who gets tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a surprisingly common condition, affecting up to 1 in 10 Americans. Over one-third of those affected by tinnitus report nearly constant ringing in the ears. Tinnitus can eventually lead to problems with hearing and balance for those who suffer from it long-term. While tinnitus is more common among people over 40 years old, tinnitus is increasingly found in younger people as well.
While there are no cures for tinnitus, massage can treat symptoms of tinnitus and make tinnitus easier to live with. Studies show that massage of the neck, ear, and chewing muscles can provide significant improvements for those with tinnitus.
If you’re desperate for a way to treat tinnitus, a massage that focuses on the ears, head, and neck may be just what you need to alleviate your tinnitus symptoms.
Common Causes of Tinnitus
Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of factors, both physical and stress-related. Circulation issues, irritation to the nerve endings, TMJ, medication side effects, high blood pressure, and exposure to sudden loud noise can all cause chronic ringing in the ears. Head and neck conditions like whiplash and TMJ are also known causes of tinnitus. One study showed that tinnitus is linked to poor alignment of the skull and neck.
Stress, anxiety, and depression can worsen tinnitus symptoms considerably. For example, when TMJ is the cause of the tinnitus, the stress of coping with tinnitus symptoms can cause further jaw and muscle tension, worsening both the TMJ and tinnitus.
How Massage can Relieve Tinnitus Pain
Massage may help relieve tinnitus symptoms in multiple ways. Massage reduces stress, which can exacerbate both the tinnitus and any underlying conditions. Massage can also resolve postural problems that may contribute to tinnitus.
Muscle tension can make tinnitus worse. Massage reduces tense muscles and corrects neck, head, and jaw misalignment which can place stress on the inner ear.
In one case study, a patient showed a reversal of tinnitus symptoms after 2.5 months of soft tissue massage, repetitive movements, and joint mobilization.
Tinnitus Massage Techniques and Areas of Focus
There are a few particular points around the ear and neck which can be targeted with massage to relieve symptoms of tinnitus. Grabbing the bottom of the earlobe and pulling it out to the side and upwards is a helpful maneuver. This stretching movement helps reduce inner ear fluid buildup, which can relieve ringing in the ears.
Another area of focus for tinnitus massage is the mastoid process, the bony part of the skull directly behind the ear. The mastoid process connects to many of the muscles surrounding the ear and neck. Massaging the mastoid process with gentle Swedish massage can relieve tension in the neck and ear muscles and allow the neck to move back into correct alignment.
The masseter muscle, which attaches the jaw to the skull, is located at the corner of the jaw bone closest to the earlobe. The masseter muscle is the strongest muscle in the body in proportion to its size, and when it is overly tense it can contribute to misalignment and ringing in the ear. Any massage intended to relieve tinnitus will focus effort on the masseter muscle as well.
Is a Massage the Best Tinnitus Remedy for You?
Massage is a remarkable natural treatment option for those plagued by the nagging symptoms of tinnitus. It can reduce overall stress and anxiety ”both contributors to worsening tinnitus” as well as relieve tension and improve alignment in the neck, jaw and ear muscles. For anyone seeking massage for tinnitus, it is important to choose a licensed massage therapist trained in massage techniques for the neck, jaw, and ear muscles. Make sure you specify that you have tinnitus when booking an in-home massage with Zeel.
Marcy is the SVP of People and Communications at Zeel. In addition to overseeing the humans of Zeel, Marcy has written about workplace topics for more than 20 years both at Zeel and as VP of Content for Vault.com, a career information web site and publisher.