When cervical spine instability causes ear pain, ear fullness, sound sensitivity and hearing problems
In this video Ross Hauser, MD discusses general problems of ear pain, ear fullness, sound sensitivity and hearing problems.
Below is the transcript summary and explanatory notes:
- As the video starts, Dr. Hauser makes a connection between cervical spine/neck instability and cause problems related to the ear and hearing.
- Our website has numerous articles on hearing problems as they related to cervical spine instability and chronic neck pain and dysfunction. Each article is supported by updated medical research and citation. These articles include:
- Many patients we see have ear pain, ear fullness or sensitivity to sound.
- Some of these people have a long medical history that may include visits to the ENT and other specialists and doctors. Some may get a diagnosis of Meniere’s disease.
- In many of these patients, their problems of tinnitus, Meniere’s disease, dizziness, ear fullness, decreased hearing or sensitivity to sound may be traced to problems of cervical spine/neck instability.
- A connection between cervical spine instability, dizziness and the development of other symptoms including ringing in the ears is discussed in our article Cervical Vertigo and Cervicogenic Dizziness
- Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
- The eustachian tube is the canal that connects the inner ear and the upper throat. It regulates the pressure within the inner ear.
- Eustachian Tube Dysfunction can occur when the muscles of the eustachian tube, the tensor veli palatini, the levator veli palatini, the salpingopharyngeus, and the tensor tympani, do not perform their job of opening and closing the tube. This can cause fluid build up in one ear as opposed to the other. This can cause the problems of inner ear fullness, ear pain, and loss of sense of balance. Cervical spine instability can cause muscle disruption.
The patient was treated for cervical spine instability, of which hearing problems was one symptom.
- In the above video at 1:44 Dr. Hauser discusses this case history:
- A recent patient had been given hearing aids and had used them for much of the last ten years
- After three Prolotherapy sessions (dextrose injections described below) the patient has significant hearing improvement.
- NOTE: The patient was treated for cervical spine instability, of which hearing problems was one symptom. This treatment can help improve hearing in many people, it does not improve hearing in every patient. A careful evaluation of each person is needed to give a realistic assessment of possible outcomes.
- At 2:23 Explaining cervical spine instability relationship to hearing dysfunction
- When there is cervical spine instability, the vagus nerve which controls levator veli palatini muscle, and the trigeminal nerve which controls the tensor veli palatini muscle, can be compressed causing dysfunction of these muscles. For many people, restoring cervical spine stability restores the proper function of these muscles and alleviates problems of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.
- Of note, the tensor veli palatini helps dampen sound. If there is tensor veli palatini dysfunction, problems of sound sensitivity may occur.
Prolotherapy injections and Cervical Realignment Therapy for cervical neck instability and a possible answer for ear problems
The ear problems described in the above video can be caused by many physical challenges. We will not suggest that every incidence of hearing problems or ear pain can be treated by addressing chronic neck pain and chronic spine instability.
Patient case story begins at 1:08 in the below video
- Patient first noticed hearing problems 5 years prior. The patients is a school teacher and could no longer hear her students properly.
- The patient made an appointment with an audiologist and had her hearing testing. Her hearing tested poorly and she was given hearing aides. This was in 2014
- In 2019, the patient sought treatment for cervical spine instability at C1, C2, C3. Incidentally she noticed that her hearing had improved and thought it odd that she could hear without the hearing aids.
- The patient describes her ear fullness as “being underwater.” As if people were talking to her above water and she was underwater. As cervical spine stability returned, the patient no longer had need for the hearing aids.
Research on cervical instability and Prolotherapy
Caring Medical Regenerative Medicine Clinics have published dozens of papers on Prolotherapy injections as a treatment in difficult to treat musculoskeletal disorders. Prolotherapy is an injection technique utilizing simple sugar or dextrose. We are going to refer to two of these studies as they relate to cervical instability and a myriad of related symptoms including the problem of tinnitus. It should be pointed out that we suggest in our research that “Additional randomized clinical trials and more research into its (Prolotherapy) use will be needed to verify its potential to reverse ligament laxity and correct the attendant cervical instability.” Our research documents our experience with our patients.
In 2014, we published a comprehensive review of the problems related to weakened damaged cervical neck ligaments in The Open Orthopaedics Journal.(1) We are honored that this research has been used in at least 6 other medical research papers by different authors exploring our treatments and findings and cited, according to Google Scholar, in more than 40 articles.
What we demonstrated in this study is that the cervical neck ligaments are the main stabilizing structures of the cervical facet joints in the cervical spine and have been implicated as a major source of chronic neck pain. Chronic neck pain often reflects a state of instability in the cervical spine and is a symptom common to a number of conditions, including disc herniation, cervical spondylosis, whiplash injury and whiplash associated disorder, post-concussion syndrome, vertebrobasilar insufficiency, and Barré-Liéou syndrome.
In the upper cervical spine (C0-C2), this can cause a number of other symptoms including, but not limited to:
- nerve irritation and vertebrobasilar insufficiency with associated:
- tinnitus, hearing problems
- facial pain,
- and migraine headaches.
1 Steilen D, Hauser R, Woldin B, Sawyer S. Chronic neck pain: making the connection between capsular ligament laxity and cervical instability. The open orthopaedics journal. 2014;8:326. [Google Scholar] 1054