What part of the neck causes tinnitus?

Answered by Willie Powers

The part of the neck that can cause tinnitus is the cervical spine, specifically when there is instability in the vertebrae of the neck. The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae, labeled C1 through C7, which provide support and flexibility to the neck. When there is instability in this region, it can lead to various symptoms, including tinnitus.

Cervical neck instability refers to excessive movement or misalignment of the vertebrae in the neck. This can occur due to various reasons, such as trauma, degenerative changes, or underlying medical conditions. When the neck is unstable, it can affect the surrounding structures, including the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles.

One way cervical neck instability can cause tinnitus is by disrupting the function of the eustachian tube. The eustachian tube is a small passageway that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. Its primary function is to regulate air pressure within the middle ear and drain any excess fluid. When there is instability in the cervical spine, it can affect the position and function of the eustachian tube, leading to problems with ear pressure regulation. This can result in tinnitus, as the abnormal pressure can cause abnormal vibrations in the inner ear, leading to the perception of ringing or buzzing sounds.

Another way cervical neck instability can contribute to tinnitus is through compression of the carotid sheath or carotid artery. The carotid sheath is a protective layer of connective tissue that surrounds important structures in the neck, including the carotid artery. The carotid artery supplies blood to the brain and head region. When there is instability in the cervical spine, it can result in compression of the carotid sheath or carotid artery. This compression can disrupt the normal blood flow to the ear and surrounding structures, leading to tinnitus. In some cases, the tinnitus may be pulsatile, meaning it has a rhythmic beating sound that corresponds to the heartbeat. This is because the compression of the carotid artery can cause abnormal blood flow, leading to the perception of pulsating sounds in the ear.

It is important to note that cervical neck instability is just one potential cause of tinnitus. There are many other factors that can contribute to the development of tinnitus, including exposure to loud noises, certain medications, ear infections, and underlying medical conditions. If you are experiencing tinnitus or any other concerning symptoms, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your specific situation and provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment options.