Most of us know the annoyance of having a song stuck in our head that keeps repeating over and over again. But what if it wasn’t a song? What if it was ringing? And what if it wasn’t in your head but in your ears? And what if it didn’t go away just by listening to that song again or tuning it out? What if it was there all of the time? That’s what people with TMJ tinnitus must deal with 24 hours a day.
The Persistence of Ringing
Temporomandibular joint disorder refers to a slew of problems affecting the jaw joint which cause pain and/or discomfort to the sufferer. Headaches, jaw pain, and other problems are common for these individuals.
While it may be hard to believe that a problem in your jaw could cause ringing in your ears, that’s what the research has shown.
Most of your mouth and face are served by a single, powerful nerve known as the trigeminal and its branches. One of these branches connects to the jaw joint. Other branches connect to the two main muscles of your ear: the tensor levi palatine and the tensor tympani. For this reason, the muscles in your ears tense up when your jaw muscles do.
If you’re experiencing pain or some other sensation in your jaw, that’s going to affect that nerve which is going to cause a domino effect of other problems for your entire face. Most people experience ear pain and/or TMJ tinnitus.
Symptoms of TMJ Tinnitus
In most cases, the ringing is not the only symptom plaguing sufferers. They may also have TMJ headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, ear pain, chewing difficulty, and TMJ hearing loss. Having these problems on an ongoing basis damages the person’s quality of life but can have even more severe complications.
Some people who suffer from ringing in their ears end up having an inability to concentrate because the sound is so annoying. Others become so frustrated with the ringing and their lives become so disrupted they end up attempting suicide.
Treatment for TMJ Tinnitus
When TMJ is the cause of the ringing, the only effective treatments must focus on treating the jaw joint and the source of its problem which is often inflammation. Sometimes anti-inflammatory medications can be used to improve the condition. Muscle relaxers or antidepressants may also be prescribed if the cause of your disorder is related to stress and/or anxiety.
If these treatments fail to deliver results, you might choose Arthrocentesis as a more invasive treatment option. With this method, a needle is inserted into the joint so that fluids can flush out the area and make sure nothing is lodged in their causing the inflammation. In some cases, medications can be applied to the joint in a similar procedure. Surgical adjustments to the jaw or a disc replacement are also possible treatments for TMJ tinnitus.