Chiropractic adjustments are popular and successful management options for reversible functional disorders of the neck (cervical spine) and other areas of the spine. Some studies have demonstrated that such adjustments can relieve tinnitus.32–36
Alcantara et al.34 described how chiropractic adjustments could reduce tinnitus, vertigo and hearing loss in a patient with cervical subluxation and temporomandibular disorder. Symptoms eventually ceased after nine sessions. Kessinger et al.32 documented clinical changes after chiropractic sessions in a geriatric patient with tinnitus, vertigo, hearing loss and cervical alterations from C3 to C7. Throughout the sessions, the patient’s symptoms were alleviated and structural/functional improvements were also evident through radiographic examination.
In contrast to classical chiropractic adjustment, Arlen’s atlas adjustment is performed without traction, rotation or extension of the cervical spine.37 By means of irritation and tension of the posterior cervical muscle, one might increase the afferent input to the vestibular nuclei in the brain stem, which might give rise to tinnitus.37 Thus, reduction of the tension via atlas therapy seems to lower the proprioception and nociception output, leading to normalization of the flow of information to the brain stem, and, as a consequence, tinnitus improvement.
It seems that some somatosensory tinnitus could be alleviated by correcting the misalignment of the cervical spine through chiropractic adjustment, especially in the upper cervical region. Such alignment might allow the entire spine to reposition itself and possibly correct the input of the region through the somatosensory pathway on the auditory system.
According to Kaute,37 many other methods are used to relax the neck muscles, with some success in treating tinnitus: the Alexander method, autogenous training, the Brügger method, craniosacral adjustment and Feldenkrais. All act on the same point – the posterior neck muscle.
Nevertheless, as much as this topic has been receiving more attention in the current literature, it still needs further clarification.
32. Kessinger RC, Boneva DV. Vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss in the geriatric patient. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2000;23:352–62. [PubMed]
33. Kessinger RC, Boneva DV. Case study: acceleration/deceleration injury with angular kyphosis. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2000;23:279–87. 10.1016/S0161-4754(00)90175-1 [PubMed]
34. Alcantara J, Plaugher G, Klemp DD, Salem C. Chiropractic care of a patient with temporomandibular disorder and atlas subluxation. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2002;25:63–70.10.1067/mmt.2002.120415 [PubMed]
35. Leboeuf-Yde C, Pedersen EN, Bryner P, Cosman D, Hayek R, Meeker WC, et al. Self-reported nonmusculoskeletal responses to chiropractic intervention: a multination survey. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2005;28:294–302. 10.1016/j.jmpt.2005.04.010 [PubMed]
36. DeVocht JW, Schaeffer W, Lawrence DJ. Chiropractic adjustment of temporomandibular disorders using the activator adjusting instrument and protocol. Altern Ther Health Med. 2005;11:70–3.[PubMed]