Tinnitus: Too much focus on the ears

Man touching his ear and jaw in pain.

© aleks333 | shutterstock.com

download your Free pdf Guide

A preview of the Liebscher & Bracht's guide against tinnitus with the front page on the left side.
Receive the 6 most effective exercises to reduce tension and completely get rid of Tinnitus.
download now

Is permanent ear noise driving you mad? Do you hear something which sounds like a constant rushing, humming, whistling, or beeping in your ear? Then you’ll already know: tinnitus has taken up residence. Tension or stress in your neck muscles, or a movement of the atlas vertebra, can trigger or aggravate the problem. If tinnitus does not go away fairly quickly, it can become a huge burden to those affected. They avoid noisy environments like bars or restaurants and tend to withdraw from social contact. We want to eliminate the need for such measures and prevent tinnitus from ruling your life!

So in this article we explain:
• where those annoying tinnitus ear noises come from,
• which factors trigger or aggravate tinnitus,
• identify strategies you can use to alleviate your symptoms,
• and we’ll also show you some exercises you can do at home.

Despite your tinnitus symptoms, we would like to accompany you on a journey to a better quality of life – and ideally, show tinnitus the door into the bargain.

Roland Liebscher-Bracht

Roland Liebscher-Bracht

Germany's most trusted pain specialist and author of several bestselling self-help books on the treatment of pain conditions.

Read more

Roland Liebscher-Bracht is Germany's most trusted pain specialist and author of several bestselling books on pain treatment. Together with his wife, Dr. med. Petra Bracht, he has developed a revolutionary method to treat pain conditions. With the help of the so-called "osteopressure", where you press specific points on your body, and special stretching exercises, pain can be stopped entirely without medication or surgical intervention. This pain treatment allows you to alleviate pain by yourself. Find out how exactly this works in this article or our numerous YouTube videos.

Roland Liebscher-Bracht

Germany's best-known pain specialist and author of several bestselling books on self-help against pain.

Read more

Roland Liebscher-Bracht is Germany's best-known pain specialist and author of several bestselling books on pain treatment. Together with his wife, the physician Dr. Petra Bracht, he has developed a revolutionary new form of pain treatment: With the so-called "Osteopressur", in which certain points on your body are pressed, and special stretching exercises, pain can be stopped completely without medication or surgical intervention. It is particularly important that this pain treatment gives you the opportunity to help yourself against your pain in a self-determined way. You can find out exactly how this works in this article and in the numerous YouTube videos.

1. Tinnitus Overview

Almost everyone has had it at some time – an annoying tinnitus with nasty beeping noises in the ear. Most ear noises stop after a short time. But not for everyone: around ten percent of the general population, and thus millions of people in Germany, are affected by acute or chronic tinnitus forms.

What Exactly Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of noise which lacks any underlying signal from the environment. That means your brain creates these sounds without an external sound source. That’s why other people cannot hear your tinnitus. Some tinnitus patients are certain the noise does not originate from within the ear – and after examination, this may be medically described as pulse-synchronous tinnitus. Furthermore, tinnitus may sound a little different to every person affected: sometimes like a maritime echo sounder, other times like a saw, and sometimes like a high-pitched beeping sound of the kind made by a smartphone charger.

Who Is Affected?

Millions of people suffer from tinnitus, the number steadily growing. However, not everyone suffers from permanent tinnitus. Most ear noises are acute (i.e., last less than three months) and disappear quickly. Around four percent of the German population struggle with chronic tinnitus (pulse-synchronous tinnitus). For these sufferers, the buzzing noise in their ear was still present, even after three months.

When tinnitus doesn’t go away, it often becomes a great burden. And if you suffer from annoying noises, you’ll know this from personal experience. Your ability to concentrate declines and noisy environments such as bars or cultural events become torturous. Tinnitus patients tend to avoid social interaction, so their quality of life can also be affected.

A pair of girls lying on their backs, mirroring their actions.

Did you know? Research has shown a buzzing in the ear can also be hereditary. Studies involving monozygotic (identical) and dizygotic (fraternal) twins suggest this – but only where the tinnitus occurs in both ears.1)

In the next section, we present some of the possible causes and triggers for tinnitus, which may perhaps apply to you. Then, in the treatment section, we explain what help is available, including self-help options. And finally, we will show you some exercises that can help reduce ear noise or even make it disappear entirely.

The Best Exercises and Tips Against Tinnitus

Download our FREE PDF guide featuring our 6 most effective exercises for getting rid of Tinnitus. 
A preview of the Liebscher & Bracht's guide against tinnitus with the front page on the left side.
All gain. No pain.

2. Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis of Tinnitus

Is the noise in your ear your constant companion, and definitely not a noisy hangover from last night’s party? Then you may have tinnitus. The symptoms, characteristics, degree of severity, and detected sound frequency of this condition are very different for each individual. Here is a summary of what many of those affected report:

Tinnitus sounds like a:

  • ringing,
  • swooshing or buzzing noise,
  • humming,
  • clicking,
  • crackling,
  • hissing, or
  • knocking

in the ear.

Accompanying these initial (primary) symptoms, further (secondary) symptoms may develop over time – depending on the severity of the condition. These include:

  • headaches
  • difficulty concentrating
  • sleep problems
  • neck tension
  • jaw discomfort

Researchers have found that, although only those affected can hear the tinnitus, it can still be partially measurable because of hearing loss, hearing impairment, or even temporary hearing loss. A tinnitus ear condition can appear as a separate symptom or as the residual effect of a sudden hearing loss, which can lead to a hearing disorder. Another possible cause is damage to the auditory nerve and nerve cells in the ear.

A clock.

How Loud Is Tinnitus?

Tests have shown that tinnitus noise can be measured at a loudness of around 5–10 decibels (dB). This roughly equates to the sound of rustling leaves, wind, or the ticking of a clock. Even those who don’t suffer from a tinnitus condition can appreciate that this type of continuous noise is not particularly pleasant. After all, who has not experienced the following scenario: you want to sleep or get back to sleep, but the tick of the clock on the wall drives you mad. This ticking, which is actually not that loud, soon becomes as just unbearable as the noise from a large construction site next door. The next day you really feel that lack of sleep. But just imagine spending every night like that – then you’ll know how a person with tinnitus feels.

2.1 What Are the Causes of Tinnitus?

There is no clear, undisputed cause for tinnitus, and the same applies to sudden hearing loss. But there are some theories about what causes the condition:2)

  • reduced blood flow (hypotension) in the inner ear through narrow blood vessels,

  • increased blood flow (hypertension) in the inner ear through enlarged blood vessels, which leads to a change in resultant noise generated because blood is then in short supply (ischemia),

  • changes in the middle ear region (such as otitis (inflammation of the ear), eustachian-tube catarrh (inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane which creates pressure in the ear) or otosclerosis (a bone condition of the inner ear)),

  • damage to the nerves in the ear – especially the auditory nerve in the inner ear,

  • tinnitus as an accompanying symptom of sudden hearing loss (often with hearing impairment),

  • tinnitus as an accompanying symptom of Meniere’s disease (with dizziness and hearing loss),

  • tinnitus following an acoustic trauma,
  • as a result of a shifted atlas vertebra, or
  • as a reaction to certain medications.

Other possible but rare triggers for tinnitus are:

  • brain tumors,
  • an auditory nerve tumor,
  • strokes,
  • multiple sclerosis (MS), and
  • traumatic brain injury.

At this point we would like to mention two models which explain the development of tinnitus:

A speaker.

One explanation for tinnitus is gaps in the frequency spectrum – due to some disturbance in sound conduction (perhaps caused by otitis or eustachian-tube catarrh). Damage to the inner ear (acoustic trauma, or infection), which destroys sensory cells, can be another cause. The brain then attempts to compensate for the acoustic deficiency by producing its own sounds – hence the tinnitus. Your brain doesn’t like absolute silence, and therefore tries to fill the acoustic void. According to this theory, it is not your hearing organ, but the brain which generates these sounds. Stress is a common trigger or intensifier of this process.3)

A woman's tense neck is being treated.

Another explanation for dizziness and ringing in the ears, which is undoubtedly true in many cases, is a dysfunction of the cervical spine (C-spine). In our pain therapy, we have also observed that muscle tension in the neck and joint complaints – involving the atlas vertebra, for example – can cause tinnitus. Bad posture (often in everyday office life) and one-sided loads are frequent causes of neck and atlas problems. In the exercise section, we will show you how to relax your neck and get your symptoms under control.

What Factors Exacerbate Tinnitus?

The most severe trigger is stress, which can be a catalyst for a tinnitus increase. On the one hand, stress can trigger ear noises. But even if this is not the cause, a constant beeping in the ear may annoy many sufferers and make their stress worse. 4) As you can see, a vicious circle can quickly develop, which is not always easy to break. But we will support you.

By the way, stress also makes your muscles tense, and your fascia becomes matted. These excessive muscular-fascial tensions (caused by the stress) can cause or intensify a functional disorder in the neck area and the region from the atlas vertebra in the cervical spine up to the jaw (e.g., bruxism). The research confirms our observations: studies of tinnitus patients have shown bruxism (teeth grinding) to be common.5)

In Detail, How Does Chronic Stress Contribute to the Development of Tinnitus?

With permanent (chronic) stress, cortisol is increasingly released, leading to an increased energy supply. In addition, the release of glutamate and calcium is also triggered. Since there are many glucocorticoid receptors (receptors for sugar metabolism) in the cochlea (inner ear) to which these substances can bind, this can lead to an increased formation of action potentials. The brain perceives this as hyperactivity, which can then be interpreted or play out, as tinnitus. The tinnitus patient then often suffers from a total hearing loss. In treatment, an attempt can be made to compensate for this micronutrient imbalance using the micronutrient magnesium to alleviate the symptoms. 6)

The good news is that if your complaints involve the jaw, neck, or cervical spine, our pain therapy treatment should serve you well. You will learn more about this in the next section. And if your tinnitus stems from these areas, you can even use our self-help exercises so that those annoying ear noises are reduced and will hopefully disappear quickly.

2.2 How Is Tinnitus Diagnosed?

If there is a whistling in your ear, you will usually be referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. This ENT doctor will then examine you to check whether there are any changes in the tympanum (middle ear), for example, that could explain the problem. If the problem is a tumor (e.g., a benign vestibular schwannoma), it is usually diagnosed during the examination. If it is a pulsating (pulse-synchronous) tinnitus, additional vascular abnormalities such as aneurysms (bulging blood vessels) must also be ruled out.

An otoscope.

Otoacoustic emissions (OEA) are also checked to detect hearing disorders. These are measurements to detect sounds given off by hair sensor cells in the inner ear and the ear canal. Your hearing is also checked to help the doctor draw some conclusions about other possible ear conditions.

However, in more than 99 percent of cases, the otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) will find no cause for your tinnitus. Your diagnosis is then “tinnitus with an unknown cause”. We believe the reason why the cause of tinnitus remains so often undiscovered is that the cervical spine (C-spine) is “overlooked,” and therefore, not examined.  

Incidentally, any possibility of hyperacusis should also be checked and ruled out, especially in children with suspected tinnitus. Hyperacusis is a pathological hypersensitivity to sound.

A Digression – The Ear and the Structure of the Auditory Nerve:

The auditory nerve is part of the vestibulocochlear nerve system. Its task is to carry information from the balance organ and the cochlea to the brain – or, more specifically, to the auditory cortex. This information is first captured via hair cells (also called sensory hair cells) in the inner ear and then sent to the auditory nerve, which forwards them. Not only does the auditory nerve send messages to the brain (auditory cortex), it also receives commands from the brain and passes them on to the sensory cells in the inner ear.

Illustration of the inner ear and its components.


Roland Liebscher-Bracht is performing a pain-free exercise.

Sign up for The Pain Relief Advisor and each week we’ll deliver free expert pain management content right to your inbox.

All gain. No pain.


Roland Liebscher-Bracht is performing a pain-free exercise.

Sign up for The Pain Relief Advisor and each week we’ll deliver free expert pain management content right to your inbox.

All gain. No pain.

3. Tinnitus Treatments

This section explains how we can combat your tinnitus using Liebscher & Bracht pain therapy and which therapies are used in conventional medicine. It gives you a comprehensive overview of the options so you can decide which treatment suits you best.

3.1 Treating Tinnitus with Liebscher & Bracht Pain Therapy

As you may have read in our other articles, we observe that most contemporary complaints involving musculoskeletal systems are due to excessive muscular-fascial tensions and one-sided loads and movement patterns. In your everyday life – and mostly without being aware of it – you may often use no more than around ten percent of the movement options and joint angles, your body can achieve or accommodate. Thus, your muscles and fascia adapt to these reduced movement parameters and “shorten.”

This mainly concerns the area of the cervical spine (C-spine), the neck, and your jaw muscles with tinnitus. Perhaps you tend to sit at your desk in the same position all day long? Or are you prone to stress, which is making you grind your teeth at night?

Your body tries to balance this excess tension by creating a counter tension. However, this means that your joint surfaces and vertebral bodies are pressed together too forcefully. This can create an atlas block, for example, which in turn can trigger tinnitus.

Fingers pointing at a model skeleton.

A lot of receptors in your body register these excessive tensions and report them to the brain. Your brain then usually switches on what is known as a signal pain in the affected region. But sometimes, this mechanism creates an alarm bell in your brain. This ringing, which signals that areas of your body are out of balance, is one form of tinnitus.

Liebscher & Bracht pain therapy can be used to apply pressure to specific targeted bony points to relieve your pain – or in this case, the ringing in your ears – so it can be either dampened down or stopped altogether. If your cervical spine (C-spine) is triggering the tinnitus, the successful outcome of this therapy will quickly become apparent as the noises in your ear become weaker, or even disappear. It’s imperative to persist with our exercises regularly so that your ear noises are permanently dampened or persuaded to stay away altogether. This will also help to ensure the stress and tension which triggered the tinnitus does not flare up again.

Would you prefer to take some active steps right away? That’s no problem! You have two options:

  •  You can apply some pressure to the bony areas yourself using our specially developed pain-relieving set. We have put together an instruction video showing which tool you should use to apply pressure to which points during this course of exercises.
  • You can also try out our exercises for tinnitus symptoms. These exercises will help you tackle the problem areas (= bottlenecks) in your neck, cervical spine, and jaw. These exercises aim to make your muscles and fascia supple again by reversing the present hardening and shortening. This is the way to eliminate your symptoms over the longer term. In the next section, we will show you step by step, which exercises can help, and how they should be performed.

3.2 Tinnitus Therapy in Conventional Medicine

When tinnitus is diagnosed, a standard approach uses infusion therapy with special solutions, administered for several days. This therapy’s success and effectiveness have not been conclusively proven and remain difficult to assess because there are many patients whose symptoms do not improve after treatment.

A hand full of pills.

Incidentally, acute cases of tinnitus due to stress are treated with glucocorticoids (the active ingredients in the medication). However, it is still unclear exactly what effect these glucocorticoids have inside the body. Sometimes a combination of cortisone, other medication, and oxygen therapy is used. Oxygen therapy is intended to support the sensory cells and nerve cells in the ear during recuperation. But there are still no definitive results for oxygen therapy combined with medication, which helps some patients, but not others.

Many doctors rely on psychotherapeutic behavior therapy with chronic tinnitus and patients suffering high levels of psychological stress. However, the aim is often just to learn to live with the condition without being stressed out by the ringing in your ears.

Another therapy is known as tinnitus retraining therapy. This treatment includes a mixture of medical advice and information, psychological care, and hearing therapy and, if necessary, a tinnitus masker (a ‘tone generator’ hearing aid device). To set up such devices correctly, it’s essential to determine the appropriate frequency range for each tinnitus patient. This frequency range data always differs from patient to patient, so it must be determined and adjusted individually.

In one study, it was found that 36 months on from the end of therapy, around 60 percent of patients had no problems falling asleep and no tinnitus-related problems with their concentration. 7) Yet other studies conclude that such retraining for tinnitus is ineffective when it comes to changing patient perceptions of a tinnitus condition.8)

Generating music with a laptop and a record player.

Some patients just use a tone generator (tinnitus noiser). Designed as a form of a hearing aid, a tinnitus noiser sends noise-canceling frequencies to the affected ear, thus distracting the user from listening to the tones generated in their brain. However, the current S3 guidelines, “Chronic Tinnitus,” valid until 2020, carry no explicit recommendation for tone generators (noise devices). According to the latest findings, tone generators (noise devices) can trigger hyperactivity and hearing loss and are more likely to harm the patient.9)

As a home remedy, many sufferers resort to preparations, including ginkgo, because it contains active ingredients that can sometimes counteract ear noises.

The Best Exercises and Tips Against Tinnitus

Download our FREE PDF guide featuring our 6 most effective exercises for getting rid of Tinnitus. 
A preview of the Liebscher & Bracht's guide against tinnitus with the front page on the left side.
All gain. No pain.

4. Tinnitus Exercises – The Top 3 Exercises to Combat Ear Noise

The cause of your tinnitus may be a dysfunction of the cervical spine (C-spine). The following relaxation exercises can help you relax the tense muscles and fascia in this area. If you are not yet familiar with our exercises, please first read our checklist below the exercise description.

Tinnitus Relief Exercise to Stretch the Neck and Jaw Muscles:

Roland Liebscher-Bracht instructs a girl to roll her cheek with a mini massage ball.

Tinnitus Foam Rolling Massage:

Grasp our mini massage ball, or some comparable ball, and roll it in a spiral movement (applying plenty of pressure) around your jaw and your cheek’s chewing muscles. Dwell a little longer on the places where the tension is especially noticeable, and circle around those spots.

Roland Liebscher-Bracht helps a girl roll her neck with a foam roller.

Exercise for Neck Tension Using the Midi Foam Roller:

Take our midi foam roller, or some comparable roller, and place it on your neck at a 45-degree angle behind the ear. Now roll it slowly down your neck using plenty of pressure, thus releasing the fascia’s adhesions. Repeat the same exercise on the other side.

A woman stretching her jaw.

Relaxation exercise to stretch the jaw muscles:

Sit up straight, grasp your lower jaw with one hand, and open your mouth as far as possible. Using your hand as a support, now really stretch the muscles in your jaw, cheek, and around your mouth. Stay in this stretch for two minutes. You may also find that your tinnitus tone initially changes or becomes stronger before the symptoms subside. But don’t let that discourage you!

Roland assisting a girl with some neck stretches to relieve her tinnitus.

Relaxation exercise to stretch the neck muscles:

Sit up straight and bend your left arm to prevent your shoulder from being pulled up during this stretching exercise. With your right hand, reach over your head to your left ear and then stretch your head. You will feel the stretch on the side of your neck. Stay in the stretch for two minutes while keeping your breathing steady. Then change sides to relieve your tension and muscle hardening on the other side.

Vary the exercise by tilting your head 45 degrees to one side, and then stretching as usual. This will stretch other muscles around your neck.

Liebscher & Bracht's Five Pillars of Practice


Roland Liebscher-Bracht is performing a pain-free exercise.

Sign up for The Pain Relief Advisor and each week we’ll deliver free expert pain management content right to your inbox.

All gain. No pain.


Roland Liebscher-Bracht is performing a pain-free exercise.

Sign up for The Pain Relief Advisor and each week we’ll deliver free expert pain management content right to your inbox.

All gain. No pain.

Sources & Studies [+]