Simple Guide to Understanding Somatic Tinnitus

Somatic tinnitus is also known as conductive tinnitus and is a condition where the sensory system can worsen tinnitus. These somatic signals are sensory signals that come from muscle sensors in the head, face, neck, arms, and tongue. Physical movements like touch or muscle spasms are exacerbating the tinnitus, not so much the ear in this situation.

What Causes Somatic Tinnitus?

One of the most common reasons this occurs is through muscle spasms. Patients have claimed that twisting your neck, using a certain pillow at night, bending your neck to look at something, or any other physical activity that may cause a muscle spasm can produce tinnitus. Although, people can start to experience tinnitus several hours after the neck is twisted or having a muscle spasm.

Also, there are rare cases where people can influence tinnitus by moving their eyes, which is known as gaze-evoked tinnitus. Moreover, dental problems and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) dysfunction can cause tinnitus. TMJ dysfunction happens when there is a painful popping or locking of the lower jaw. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause somatic tinnitus as well.

This type of tinnitus commonly occurs in one ear only, and there are various tinnitus properties that suggest a somatic component. These include:

  • Intermittency 
  • Large fluctuations in loudness
  • Variability of location
  • Daily pattern
  • No hearing loss but head, neck, or dental insult


People diagnosed with somatic tinnitus are able to alter their tinnitus sound by moving their jaw, neck, and eyes. Patients have also been able to adjust their tinnitus sound by applying pressure with a fingertip on their temples, cheeks, mandible, tragus, and behind the ear and on the neck. All of these movements increase tension from tense muscles that are linked to the acoustic pathways.

How Can I treat Somatic Tinnitus?

There have been many different physical therapies that have been proposed for somatic tinnitus treatment; however, there is no absolute cure for it. Studies have shown that direct trigger point acupuncture of cervical muscles may be promising in the treatment of somatic tinnitus with a long-duration effect. Cervical manual mobilization and exercise therapy also produce positive effects. 

If you or a loved one suspect you have this type of tinnitus, we recommend you visit a hearing aid center near you. Be sure to have your hearing tested regularly with a hearing healthcare professional. Together, you can develop an individualized plan to prevent, protect and better manage your hearing health.

We hope this article was informative and helped you better understand what exactly somatic tinnitus is and how to treat it if you know someone diagnosed with it.

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