How is Ringing in the Ear Related to Jaw and Neck Pain?︱IMPACT Physical Therapy

How is Ringing in the Ear Related to Jaw and Neck Pain?

If you regularly suffer from ringing in the ears, it’s likely you have tinnitus, a condition that affects up to 20% of people. Though they are very different symptoms, your stiff, sore neck may be related to your tinnitus, linked together by temporomandibular disorder or TMJ. We’re exploring how neck pain and ringing in ears are connected and what to do about your symptoms with this guide. 

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Tinnitus and TMJ 

Temporomandibular disorder is a painful problem that affects your jaw muscles, joints, and facial nerves. These joints are located just in front of your ears and connect your jawbone to your skull. TMJ can make it hard to fully open one’s mouth and often includes a loud clicking or popping sound while eating. 

In addition to jaw pain, some of the most common side effects of TMJ issues include:

  • Sore, stiff neck
  • Tinnitus
  • Earaches 
  • Headaches 

So while your neck pain isn’t causing the ringing in your ears, they both may be side effects of TMJ problems. Some of the biggest reasons why a stiff neck and tinnitus are caused by TMJ include: 

  • Your chewing muscles are located very close to your ears and can affect your hearing 
  • Your head’s nerve supply is very closely connected 
  • One of your jaw ligaments is directly connected with a hearing bone of the middle ear 

Can a Pinched Nerve Cause Ringing in the Ears?

Nerves can be compressed and pinched by pressure from muscles, cartilage, tendons, or surrounding bones. When this happens, the normal function of the nerve is disrupted and pain radiates to the area of the body served by the nerve.

Could a pinched nerve be contributing to your stiff neck and ringing in the ears? Health conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cervical spine abnormalities can all cause pinched nerves.

Mostly likely, your tinnitus and neck pain aren’t directly caused by a pinched nerve. It is uncertain whether or not a pinched nerve can cause ringing in the ears — but there is evidence that it can cause hearing loss. Chronic pinched nerves can become damaged over time, leading to hearing loss or tinnitus. Typically, tinnitus is a symptom of the condition that caused the pinched nerve itself.

What to Do About Tinnitus and Neck Pain

If you are suffering from both a stiff neck and tinnitus, it’s more than likely you’ll need to address your TMJ to alleviate these painful symptoms. Depending on the severity of your TMJ disorder, there are several possible treatments, including: 

  • Introducing softer foods into your diet 
  • Wearing a bite guard or night guard while you sleep to prevent teeth grinding or jaw clenching
  • Surgery for the most extreme cases 

As you work through your TMJ issues, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate your neck pain and ringing in the ears.

  • For neck pain:slow, gentle neck exercises can help release tension and discomfort, as well as using a warm compress. Deeper massage or physical therapy may be necessary for more intense pain. 
  • For tinnitus: removing excess earwax buildup can help reduce tinnitus. For louder ringing, the use of hearing aids also helps dampen the sound. 

Treat Your Sore, Stiff Neck with IMPACT Physical Therapy 

Neck pain and ringing in ears are uncomfortable symptoms you shouldn’t have to live with. Physical therapy is an excellent treatment method for relieving stiff neck issues. Request an appointment to learn more and see how our expert team can help restore normal movement and comfort.