Prevalence and Factors Associated with Neck and Jaw Muscle Modulation of Tinnitus

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Forceful contractions of neck and jaw muscles have consistently been shown to modulate tinnitus and can be used to screen patients who are responsive to somatic stimulation and, therefore, optimal candidates for somatosensory-based treatment. To identify the factors associated with somatic modulation of tinnitus, 163 patients underwent 19 neck and jaw maneuvers after an extensive physiological and audiological profile was compiled. Overall, tinnitus was modulated in 57.1% of ears tested. Unilateral tinnitus showed greater prevalence of modulation. Neck maneuvers generally decreased tinnitus loudness, whereas jaw maneuvers increased loudness. Female gender and buzzing tinnitus were associated with a high prevalence of modulation and a decrease in tinnitus loudness. Loud tinnitus and low-pitched tonal tinnitus were associated with exacerbation of the condition as a result of somatic testing. Use of these characteristics to select optimal candidates for somatosensory-based tinnitus therapies may be essential for the development of an effective approach for tinnitus treatment.

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