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What exactly is tinnitus?

Posted in Balance Disorders, Tinnitus on Nov 19, 2019

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Hi, I'm Dr. Drury with The Upper Cervical Spine Center.

Today, we want to talk about tinnitus. What exactly is tinnitus. Well, the quick answer is, "It's ringing in the ears," right? But where does it come from? What's the ultimate cause of tinnitus? Why is it I keep getting a ringing in the ears or some high pitched or even low pitched noises when my ear is perfectly fine? You've probably been to the ENT, they probably examined your ear from top to bottom and they say, "There's nothing wrong with your ear." But you know that you keep hearing this noise. Maybe it's one ear more so than the other. Maybe it's both. Maybe it fluctuates. I know when it's quiet it's usually its loudest, right? So, what we have found at the Upper Cervical Spine Center is that there is nothing wrong with the ear, but somewhere between the ear and the brain, the message is getting changed, getting distorted, and creating the ringing, the tinnitus, the screaming, the whatever it is…the drive-you-crazy noise.

    

What we have found is that there is a nerve that goes from your ear called the vestibular cochlear nerve. It has two branches. The vestibular is the balance part, and then cochlear is the hearing part, and so where those nerves come together to create one nerve right off of the ear and then they go down into the upper part of the neck to the brainstem. There, at the brainstem, they send the message to the brain of hearing. So the vestibular part is the balance, and the cochlear part is the hearing. So if one side or sometimes even it affects both sides of the nerve, then not only would you have ringing in the ear, maybe fluctuation in hearing, but also some balance issues like Meniere's Disease, for example. But if it's just the tinnitus only, then that means it's only affecting one side of the nerve, which is the hearing side.

    

So the normal message enters the ear, the ear interprets it, and converts it into a nerve signal that goes through the nerve to the brain telling the brain what you hear. So if you're hearing this right now, it's all because of that mechanism, the message, the voice, the sounds that enter the ear, and the ear transmits and converts that sound into nerve messages to the brain. Now, if one of the top two bones called the atlas or axis are out of align to the point that they're putting pressure on the brainstem, then what happens is that at the point where the nerve goes to the brainstem, to the brain, it gets interfered with. Like stepping on a garden hose, it changes the message, the normal message of hearing from the brain, from the ear to the brain. So what happens is your brain interprets something other than what was sent from the ear.

    

In this case, it's sending a sound of a high pitch or a ringing or some annoying sound that goes to the ear. If we can find the problem and we can remove the pressure at the brainstem, then the message gets normal, and it gets unimpeded. Now how did this happen? It always starts with some sort of physical trauma initially misaligning the bone. That doesn't mean you have a car wreck or a fall or an injury, and immediately you have tinnitus. But over time, with that pressure that's there, that brainstem moving can eventually start to create more and more trauma to the area to where it can actually affect the nerves from the ear to the brain. So there's 274 ways in which just the top two bones in your neck can misalign, so everyone's different. We have to determine exactly which one of those 274 possible misalignments could be creating your tinnitus.

    

So as Upper Cervical specialists, that's what we do all day. We focus all of our energy on just those top two bones to try to figure out exactly how they're positioned so we know exactly how to reposition them to the point that now it no longer takes the pressure off of the brainstem, allowing normal message from the ear to get to the brain unimpeded, unchanged. Thus, removing any crazy sounds like the tinnitus ringing sounds. So if you live in the Charlotte, Lake Wylie, Lake Norman, Huntersville, Cornelius, Pineville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Gastonia, Belmont area, we are the upper cervical doctor for you. Give our office a call. We never charge for the initial consultation to find out if you have an upper cervical problem. If you do, then we'll explain to you what we need to do to figure out exactly what the problem is and how to correct it. So call our office at (704) 588-5560.

If you don't live in the Charlotte area, try to find an upper cervical doctor near you. You can Google search ‘upper cervical chiropractor’. If you can't find one, call our office. We'll do our best to try to find the closest one to you that we believe can help you the best. I hope this video makes sense to you. If so, please share it. Otherwise, we look forward to meeting you. Have a great afternoon.

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