Dry Needling & Joint Manipulation to Treat & Resolve Tinnitus & Hearing Loss
Below are hearing tests from a recent dry needling student of mine. Middle aged guy who experienced random, significant hearing loss and tinnitus in the right ear on his way to work in 2021. There was no specific cause for the random onset of hearing loss. He tried medication and all the typical things a person would try for hearing loss, with no results. The only thing that helped him was thoughtful dry needling combined with joint manipulation, with which I treated him for 3 days during our dry needling course. After day three, he said his hearing sounded totally normal for the first time in years. He went from basically deaf in the right ear to normal hearing in 3 days. These are his audiology tests from before and after the class. In the left picture, taken prior to class, the depressed red line indicates hearing deficiency in the right ear and the blue line is his normal left ear. In the right picture, the test taken following our course, the left and right ear are basically equal. Magic!
So, what in the everlasting hell is going on here? How can dry needling and joint manipulation possibly fix tinnitus and hearing loss? Well, the most likely explanation is aliens. Or magic… However, another explanation is, thoughtful dry needling combined with joint manipulation restores autonomic nervous system homeostasis to the point where the mind and body can once again use their alien-magic-innate healing abilities to restore health, including hearing.
Now, the question that interests me most is this: How did my needling and manipulative treatment resolve severe hearing loss and tinnitus in 3 days, when traditional treatment did nothing for years? Well, I have two primary thought processes on the matter, and I don’t know which one is correct. Likely, it is a combination of the two, along with some other stuff. Remember, we know very little about the mechanisms of action running our intricately interconnected biologic processes.
I needled and relaxed the muscles around the TMJ and ear, which were creating abnormal neurophysiologic and mechanical stresses and strains, inducing pathologic spontaneous electrical activity, creating tinnitus and hearing loss. This included reduction of all deviated spinal joints to neutral, especially C0-C3.
By treating this student’s entire body with the underlying goal of removing as much sympathetic stress as possible, via removing as much pathologic tissue as possible, while at the same time targeting and stimulating the parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system, I depressed the student’s chronic sympathetic hyperactivity below his threshold of complete dysfunction. At a certain threshold of chronic sympathetic hyperactivity, our autonomic nervous system loses its ability to self-regulate. Once the sympathetics are depressed enough, and enough autonomic homeostasis is achieved, the result is like rebooting your computer and running anti-virus software. The body and mind know how to heal themselves better than we ever will. The trick is, facilitating a neurophysiologic environment where this is feasible. This almost always includes depressing sympathetics and elevating parasympathetics, as the vast majority of medical impairments, including tinnitus and hearing loss, are both results, and causes of, chronic sympathetic autonomic hyperactivity.
As far as muscles go, the tensor veli palatini muscle can most directly cause tinnitus and hearing loss, as it is the only muscle that attaches directly to the auditory tube cartilage.
Why Treat the Tensor Veli Palatini muscle?
- The tensor veli palatini muscle is the easiest muscle to target that can most directly cause hearing loss and tinnitus, and is a muscle that nobody ever learns about. It attaches directly to the auditory tube cartilage and the top of the soft palate.
- You cannot treat this muscle without needles. It is impossible to access. Just like you cannot treat anything but the skin, directly, without needles.
- To access it with needles, you need to enter through the fossa just anterior to the TMJ. By entering through this space, you must pass through both masseters and both lateral heads of the lateral pterygoid. If you insert a few needles into this space, you can get all 3 pterygoids, both masseters and the TVP on each side.
- So, you can treat about 12 muscles with a handful of needles.
- If I had to pick 1 location in the face to treat, this would be it. You are treating all the primary TMD problem-causers and you are accessing tissue adjacent to a major ganglion, the Otic ganglion, of the trigeminal nerve.
- This is excellent for all fascial palsies, singles, post-shingles neuralgia, etc.
- Works awesome to reduce sympathetic autonomic hyperactivity, which negatively affects the vast majority of humanity, as the facial nerves have significant parasympathetic components.
- Needling near the Otic ganglion stimulates parasympathetic nuclei contains within the trigeminocervical complex, leading to sympathetic depression, parasympathetic elevation, and autonomic nervous system homeostasis.
- Great for headaches, tooth pain and brain fog.
- Best individual muscle to treat tinnitus and hearing loss.
- ANS homeostasis is the key to all health. Needling this area induces sympathetic depression, parasympathetic elevation and ANS homeostasis.
Along with the mandibular region, I addressed all other regions of significant tissue pathology with a focus on reducing tension on the sympathetic chain, maximally removing soft tissue and joint pathology throughout the body, while at the same time targeting the parasympathetic-dominant portions of the ANS; the vagus nerve distribution in the ears, C2 spinous process / suboccipital periosteum, and the sacral plexus, S2-S4, with both needling and manipulation. C1/C2 is a particularly important spinal segment to target. I included 1 Hz microcurrent connecting various locations to each other. Remember, low frequency microcurrent is the best at reducing pain, reducing sympathetic activity, and inducing autonomic homeostasis.
Regardless of why hearing loss and tinnitus initially occurs, if there even is a primary causative factor, after these symptoms have been going on for a few months, the problem will be compounded into a combination of mechanical and neurologic factors, with the overall, detrimental, end-result being chronic sympathetic autonomic hyperactivity. This does not necessarily have to be a localized problem to the cervical spine and TMJ, although these areas are typically involved. Enough sympathetic aggravation anywhere in the body can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. Sympathetic aggravation and elevation lead to increased blood pressure, increased body wide inflammation, increased anxiety, and increased tissue hypoxia, all of which can lead to tinnitus and hearing loss.
The take away message here is, we do not need to know or understand all the neurophysiologic mechanisms by which tinnitus and hearing loss occur, in order to fix them. This is good, because we centuries away, at least, from this type of understanding. The only thing we need to understand is this: Most medical impairments cause sympathetic hyperactivity, and are driven by sympathetic hyperactivity, creating destructive feedback loops throughout the brain and body. The mind and the body know how to heal themselves and each other far better than we ever will. Therefore, theoretically, if we remove enough sympathetic stress to the autonomic nervous system to allow to mind and body to once again self-regulate, many significant impairments miraculously resolve, including tinnitus and hearing loss. Or it's magic and aliens…
Let me know if anyone has any questions about anything or if you would like to sign up for or host a class.
DISCLAIMER: The content on the blog for Intricate Art Spine & Body Solutions, LLC is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. The information contained in this blog should not be used to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or health illness. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. Please consult with your physician or other qualified healthcare professional before acting on any information presented here.