TMJ Tinnitus

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: TMJ Pain


Tinnitus and Jaw pain

what is the link between TMJ and tinnitus?

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Usually, when I question my clients with ringing in their ears further, they inform me that they have also had tightness or clunking in their jaws.

TMJ pain and Tinnitus
Treating TMJ pain

Your jaw, medically known as your TMJ (tempero-mandibular joint) can be the cause of ringing in your ears. Tinnitus is often a sign or symptom of TMJ dysfunction.

If the muscles in your jaw are tight and overactive, it can result in your ear canal becoming sensitised. There are many muscles involved in your jaw and ear function. However, clinically I find the “tensor tympani” and the “tensor levi palatine” muscles to be the main culprits in ringing in the ears, arising from dysfunctions associated with the jaw.

This is due to these muscles tensing automatically whenever the jaw tensing muscles are tensed. So if you suffer with TMJ tension, grinding of your teeth, or other facial tensions - you may have associated tinnitus.

The reason for this is due to all these muscles sharing the same nerve supply from the trigeminal nerve. This essentially means they share the same fuse box!!

Most of the patients that I see in my clinic with tinnitus (ringing of the ears), have associated jaw or neck pain in conjunction with their tinnitus. So, tinnitus may occur alone or with any of the below symptoms.

The most common pattern of complaints that I see with tinnitus are:

  1. Neck pain and back pain.
  2. Dizziness (vertigo).
  3. Poor hearing.
  4. Congested ears.
  5. Jaw pain and jaw noises (clicking etc.).
  6. Sinusitis.
  7. Sore throat.
  8. Headaches & migraines.
  9. Ear pain.
  10. Double vision.

People have presented to my clinic with tinnitus of various severity. It ranges from mild and intermittent ringing in the ears to an inability to work, reduced concentration and, on occasion, deep depression. Never underestimate anybody with tinnitus, as it can be one of the most life-interfering conditions out there.

However, the good news is that, if tinnitus is caught at an early stage it usually responds well with a variety of TMJ treatment options. Firstly, the underlying cause of the tinnitus needs to be found. You may need to attend a doctor, neurologist, dentist and physiotherapist to achieve this thorough diagnosis.

Subsequently, treatment may involve joint mobilisations, muscles stretches, and dental appliances on occasion. I try to avoid medication where possible but it may be required.

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Further References for TMJ

TMJ Symptoms. In my experience the symptoms of TMJ are varied and many. In my practice I often see two TMJ problems a day and rarely are any two presentations the same. Find out more at Signs and Symptoms of TMJ.

TMJ Causes. TMJ problems are commonly associated with neck and back conditions. Unfortunately, TMJ dysfunctions are often overlooked or not diagnosed by therapists and doctors.
Find out more at Causes of TMJ.

TMJ Treatment Options. There are two aspects involved in the treatment of TMJ disorders: Pain relief and mechanical correction.
Find out more at TMJ Treatment Options.

Exercises for TMJ. Even severe TMJ pain symptoms can be relieved with specific exercises. It just takes the right exercises - and a continued effort over time.
Find out more at TMJ Exercises.

TMJ and Neck Pain. Neck Pain is a very usual consequence of TMJ - I rarely see a client with TMJ pain that is not associated with neck pain. Find out more at TMJ Neck Pain.

TMJ Surgery. TMJ surgery can be very successful and a great relief to the patient suffering from TMJ pain. However, before we go on - I feel strongly that all other options should be exhausted first before you go down the surgical route. Find out more at TMJ Surgery.

TMJ.ORG. The TMJ association is a patient advocate organisation - giving you access to the thoughts and opinions of others suffering from this condition, as well as treatment approaches that worked for them. Find out more at TMJ.ORG.

The Mayo Clinic. Gives the formal medical perspective on TMJ treatment including use of drugs and surgery. Find out more at Mayo Clinic TMJ info.


While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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