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Tinnitus ~ How Massage Might Be Able to Help
by Nancy Hausauer, LMP
Tinnitus--ringing or other noises in the ears--is common and usually harmless. However, it can drive people crazy, robbing them of sleep, concentration, and peace of mind. There's no one cause, and no one cure.
When to See Your Doctor
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should see your doctor if your ears start ringing after a cold and it doesn't go away within a week. If ear-ringing appears suddenly, with no apparent cause, or if it comes along with hearing loss or dizziness, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Can Massage Help?
If serious medical causes have been ruled out, and treatment from your doctor doesn't seem to help, you might try massage.
Surprisingly, massage can help in some cases. There are four main types of massage to try.
1. Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points are painful muscle "knots" that can be found in any muscle in the body. They can cause a whole host of weird problems (in addition to their most common effect of referring pain elsewhere in the muscle).
Researchers have found that trigger points in the jaw and the front of the neck can contribute to or cause ringing in the ears. Deactivating them with targeted trigger point massage may bring relief or at least lessen the symptoms.
Trigger point therapy is a specialized form of massage, so you'll need to make sure that a prospective massage therapist is familiar with it.
2. Lymphatic Massage
Lymphatic massage (lymphatic drainage) to the neck, jaw, head, and ear are worth trying, especially if inflammation is playing a role in the problem.
Lymphatic massage, like trigger point therapy, is a specialized form of massage that requires additional training beyond the basics of massage school. You'll need to confirm that a prospective massage therapist if trained in this particular therapy.
3. Myofascial Massage
Fascia is the connective tissue that is found everywhere in the body, including the face and ears. It can get tight and restricted. Myofascial massage to the big muscles in the front of the neck can help to loosen and relax the fascia of the inner ear, which might help stop ringing ears.
Most licensed massage therapists will be able to provide this form of therapy.
4. Swedish Massage to the Head, Neck, Jaw, and Chest
Swedish massage is generally relaxing and can have an impact on the muscles and fascia of the face and ear. Swedish massage targeted to particular neck and chest muscles can also improve or resolve thoracic outlet syndrome, which is thought to be a contributing cause in some cases of tinnitus. ("Thoracic outlet syndrome" is the medical term for tight muscles in certain neck and chest muscles constricting nerves and blood vessels.)
All licensed massage therapists should be able to provide you with Swedish massage to the face, neck, head, jaw, and chest.
If nothing else, massage helps you to relax, which will make irritations such as ear-ringing subjectively easier to bear. Not to mention that it's good for your overall health, and it's enjoyable!
All these massage techniques can also be helpful in other minor ear problems such as ear pressure issues and pain with airplane landings.
You can find information about other alternative therapies at the American Tinnitus Association website.
Remember: Do not pursue any advice given here if it conflicts with the advice of your doctor, and don't continue doing it if it makes your symptoms worse.
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About the Author
Nancy Hausauer, LMP, is a writer, bodyworker, and energy healer based in Tacoma, Washington. Visit www.NancyHausauer.com, www.The-Energy-Healing-Site.com, or www.Tacoma-Massage-Therapy.com for more information.