Causes of Simultaneous Pain & Tinnitus
As audiologists, we generally believe tinnitus to be symptom of a condition which is one of the reasons why it can be treated. There are numerous conditions that can cause tinnitus and some of those will also have pain as an associated symptom. Let's look at some of those.
TMJ is the abbreviation for all temporo-mandibular joint issues. The TMJ is a complex joint with powerful muscles which can become injured like any muscle or joint. Symptoms are pain which can be felt as earache, clunking, limited movement, headaches, neck pain and tinnitus. TMJ is extremely common and will be experienced by 80% of us at some point in our lives. Teeth grinding during the night is the main cause.
Long-term pain and discomfort from conditions in the neck can also aggravate tinnitus in the same way TMJ problems do. There is evidence that the nerve endings in the neck do make connections with the hearing centres of the brain.
Some people are able to self adjust the sound of their tinnitus by moving their neck particularly those who have suffered an injury to the head and neck region, such as from a car accident or who have neck pain or stiffness for other reasons, such as arthritis.
Treatment begins by seeing your doctor regarding the neck issue and sound therapy may help relieve you from any annoying tinnitus for which you would see an audiologist.
Earwax protects your ear canal by keeping the skin moisturised, trapping dirt and slowing the growth of bacteria. When too much earwax accumulates it can become painful especially if it starts pushing on the eardrum. It will also cause hearing loss and tinnitus.
Ear infections can effect both the outer and middle ear. They can be bacterial, viral or fungal and can be extremely painful. There is often associated tinnitus. You should see a doctor if you've had pain for more than 3 days. The tinnitus may remain for a period of time after the infection has gone due to material left in the ear. A good audiologist will be able to remove the debris.
Perforated eardrums that occur usually after an accident or a very loud noise can cause both pain and tinnitus. These will usually heal themselves but may need attention from doctor or surgeon.
Dental inflammation or gum infections can often cause tinnitus and pain which may even be felt in the ear. If no problems can be found in the ear itself then a visit to the dentist might be a good idea.
All of the above conditions need to checked out by your GP and you will likely require medication or further treatment from a specialist to help with the pain. It is highly unlikely to be permanent and the same goes for the tinnitus. Intermediary treatment of the tinnitus by an audiologist is recommended if it is severe enough.