Somatic Tinnitus from a Period of Stress and Anxiety

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Wally K, Apr 20, 2024.

    1. Wally K

      Wally K Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Neck and jaw tension
      Hello Everyone,

      I was really hoping I wouldn't have to do this, but here I am. I feel as though I am out of options, and I could really use some advice.

      I am a 24-year-old male, and I've been suffering from intense/disabling tinnitus ever since June of 2023. It started after I had a period of stress and anxiety relating to my first year at my full-time job while also pursuing my master's degree at the same time. I wasn't sleeping much, and I also spent most of my time during the day sitting at a computer. This was a complete 180 compared to my years in college, where I was an athlete and spent most of the day working out and being active. During this stressful period, I woke up one morning and sat at my computer to start working. I noticed that my ears started ringing out of nowhere, and I was sure it would just go away after a few seconds. Well... it didn't. The tinnitus went from 0 to 10 right out of the gate and hasn't left me since. I apologize for the long post, but I'd like to explain my symptoms and what I've done so far.

      In terms of symptoms, my ears pop almost every time I swallow, my neck makes a crunching noise when I look around, and I have a high-pitched ring that is constant 24/7. The tinnitus is by far the worst symptom. Multiple types of movements make the tinnitus worse. Shaking my head "no," moving my head/ear quickly to either shoulder, or looking straight up makes the tinnitus twice as loud. Bringing my chin down to my chest does not increase it. If I press right above or behind either ear with my finger, the sound increases as well. I have tried pressing on the common trigger point areas, and it seems that only pressing on the temporalis and the occipital region can increase the sound. The constant tone sounds like high-pitched electricity, and the quick neck movements make it sound similar to a high-pitched lightsaber sound if that makes any sense. Jutting my bottom jaw forward also increases the tinnitus. Lastly, I wanted to mention that the tinnitus is mainly in my left ear, but I can still notice it in the right ear as well.

      In terms of treatment, I feel like I've just about done it all at this point. I started by going to multiple different ENTs, but they weren't any help. They said my hearing was fine and that I just needed to get used to it. Next, I started physical therapy for my jaw and neck with a TMJ specialist. He has been helpful with muscle tightness but didn't help the tinnitus. During this time, I also went to the best TMJ orthodontist in town, who gave me a mouth splint just to see if that would help. I've been wearing it for eight months now, and no help with the tinnitus. I've also seen different neurologists, pain management doctors, chiropractors, and acupuncturists. Of all those visits, the only helpful treatments were small Botox injections in the temporalis and masseter muscles and dry needling in the neck. Hot showers are also the only thing that seems to bring my tinnitus lower. During these appointments, the doctors ordered every scan you can think of. I had a brain MRI, neck MRI and X-rays, TMJ MRI, CT Scan of the head and ear, MRA, and more. All came out fairly normal. The only test showing issues is the neck MRI, where they stated I have a very straight neck and a slight bulging disk that doesn't touch any nerves or spinal fluid. I have been trying to get the curve of my neck back by continuing physical therapy and changing my pillow and posture, but I honestly think I've had a fairly straight neck for most of my life with no issues. At this point, I believe I either have a super tight neck that is causing my neck vertebrae and tendons to be compressed, or I have some sort of upper cervical instability that none of the doctors have found. I could also be totally wrong, but that is all I've thought of at this point.

      I am aware that there is a chance the tinnitus will never fully go away, but my main goal is to continue pursuing treatment until I can at least move my head around like normal without drastically increasing the noise. It is impossible to habituate to a sound that changes constantly throughout the day, and I can't just walk around using my entire body to turn and look at things instead of my neck.

      I would greatly appreciate any advice on what to try next. Are there any doctors out there that actually have an interest in tinnitus in the Midwest? I feel as though all the doctors in my area have zero interest or experience with tinnitus. Am I pursuing the right forms or treatment? Does anyone have a very similar issue to me? If so, what has helped?

      Thank you for your time.
      • Hug Hug x 3

Share This Page