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Does TMJ/TMD Cause Tinnitus?

San Antonio, Texas

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is one symptom associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD). The temporomandibular joint is a very complex joint that lies in front of your ears. Connecting the jaw bone to the base of your skull, this joint contains a fibrous disc that splits it into two sections. This allows multiple movements; side to side and front to back.

How Tinnitus Can Arise

  1. Muscles: It is not uncommon for something to go wrong with the temporomandibular joint, and tinnitus is just one outcome. Think about if you hit someone in the arm or leg. All the muscles around the point of impact would tighten, not just the muscle you made contact with. The same can be applied to your jaw joint. When there is tightening of your jaw joint, the smaller muscles inside the middle of your ear may also tighten. The result can cause hearing problems because the bones inside your ear that you need to hear with, tighten up and freeze.
  2. Nerves: Sometimes pain from TMD (nociceptive input) can overwhelm the normal hearing input because the nerves of the joint and hearing share pathways. Also referred to as “central crosstalk” within the brain, as certain head and neck nerves enter the brain near regions known to be involved in hearing.
  3. Joint Position:TMJ tinnitus and/or hearing problems can be caused by the compression of your tissues behind the jaw joint. Those suffering from TMJ usually have a jaw joint that is badly aligned and pushes backwards into the ear. The back of a human jaw joint has a great deal of incredibly sensitive tissue that is painful when compressed. Therefore, your body may try to correct this by pulling your jaw forward, which takes muscle power. The catch is that these muscles were not designed to hold bones in place for days, weeks and months on end. The result is muscles that are overworked and begin to spasm and harden up. The inflammation and shortening of these muscles causes a ripple effect for the other muscles and joints that are interrelated to it, including the inner ear.

Serving the San Antonio area, Dr. Brian Hale can help alleviate the pain and irritation that tinnitus causes. If you are interested in a pain-free lifestyle, please contact our San Antonio office today to schedule your initial consultation.

Describe Your TMJ

Printable Form (PDF)
To help us better understand your specific pain points and determine the ideal treatment, please print this form. Circle all symptoms that apply to you and bring it to your TMJ consultation.