Evidence for a tinnitus subgroup responsive to somatosensory based treatment modalities

R. A. Levine*, E. C. Nam, Y. Oron, J. R. Melcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Studies have established that the somatosensory system of the upper cervical region and head can be intimately involved in tinnitus. Tinnitus can arise directly from a disorder of the head and upper neck through activation of the somatosensory system. "Somatic testing" (a series of strong muscle contractions of the head and neck) can (1) modulate the tinnitus percept of ∼80% of people with ongoing tinnitus, and (2) elicit a sound percept in ∼50% of people with no tinnitus. These somatic phenomena are equally prevalent among people with or without functioning cochlea. Likely neural pathways underlying both the induction and modulation of tinnitus have been revealed in animal studies. Because somatic influences are fundamental to the operation of the auditory system, in general, and to tinnitus, in particular, somatic testing should be incorporated into all evaluations of tinnitus (1) to improve understanding of the role of the somatosensory system in any individual and (2) to identify subgroups of tinnitus patients who may respond to a particular treatment modality (as has already been shown for the tinnitus associated with temporomandibular disorder). Our clinical experience and review of reports of treatment modalities directed toward the somatosensory system supports the hypothesis that these modalities can benefit individuals with symmetric hearing thresholds but asymmetric widely fluctuating tinnitus. Treatment modalities involving the somatosensory system should be re-assessed by targeting this tinnitus subgroup.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTinnitus
Subtitle of host publicationPathophysiology and Treatment
EditorsB. Langguth, G. Hajak, T. Kleinjung, A. Cacace, A.R. Moller
Pages195-207
Number of pages13
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameProgress in Brain Research
Volume166
ISSN (Print)0079-6123

Keywords

  • acupuncture
  • dorsal cochlear nucleus
  • electrical
  • temporomandibular
  • trigger point injections

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