Dizziness, Ears Ringing, Nausea, Tinnitus
I am the moderator for three different forums on the internet and I have received so many messages that give these symptoms, that I wanted to bring it to the attention of the readers of this blog.
There is a muscle called sternocleidomastoid (SCM for short) that gives not only these symptoms, but also neck pain, stiffness when trying to turn your head in the opposite direction, and pain in your ear. That’s a lot for one muscle, but I’ll explain what’s happening.
The SCM originates on your collarbone and sternum and inserts into your mastoid bone (behind your ear). When the muscle contracts it pulls your mastoid bone toward your collar bone, which is why you turn in the opposite direction.
However, inside your mastoid bone are the tiny bones that enable you to hear, but when the bone is being pulled they aren’t tapping properly. As the bones misconnect, you hear ringing (tinnitus) in your ear, or you may have pain in your ear.
Also, because you may now be experiencing a loss of equilibrium, that can also make you feel nauseous, and also give you pain along the side of your neck.
How does all of this happen? Many times it comes from the way you are sleeping. If you sleep on your side and you twist your head either up toward the ceiling, or down toward the mattress, you are holding the muscles contracted for hours at a time. Then you turn over to your other side and the tight muscle pulls on your mastoid bone. This hurts, so you turn over again and go back to the original position, continuing the contraction.
Or, if your computer screen is off to the side and you sit many hours with your head tilted, your SCM will also stay in the contracted position and put pressure on your mastoid bone.
Several years ago I had my practice in a doctor’s office in New York. Once a man was there for horrible ringing in his ears and he said to the doctor “if this doesn’t stop I may kill myself, it’s driving me crazy!” Now it’s easy for me to say that this is going to far, but I’m not the one who has the constant ringing. The doctor sent him to an ENT physician to have a battery of tests done. I asked if “after he has been everywhere you can possibly send him, if all the tests come out negative, could I see him?” The doctor wasn’t convinced that I could do anything, but he said “yes, IF all the tests are negative.”
So, two weeks later the man was on my table and I squeezed his SCM, and he almost fainted! I held it (more gently than he suspected) and gradually increased the pressure. After about 5 minutes he looked at me and said “it’s starting to fade,” and after 10 minutes it was totally gone!
I taught him how to self treat and we walked out of my office. He saw the doctor as he was walking down the hall and, in a VERY angry voice he said “WHY did you make me suffer for two extra weeks when she was right down the hall!” He was pretty angry, and he let his feelings be known.
After he left, the doctor and I discussed it and he was very distressed that he had never heard how the SCM could cause these symptoms, now he was pretty upset.
Over time, he and I spoke about so many conditions that are caused by muscles that he started to investigate muscles and trigger points, and incorporated them into his practice. He was a pretty amazing physician, open to learn anything that would help his patients, and I still have a great deal of respect for him.
The odds are your physician isn’t looking at muscles as a cause of pain, unless you also have a physician who is open to looking at non-conventional treatments. If you do, you can thank your lucky stars.
You can release this tension in just about all of the muscles in your body, it isn’t hard. I’ve written many short books that address specific problems. For all of these symptoms, you discover how to treat the SCM (and other muscles) by reading Books #2, or 3, or 5.
I always end my emails with the note “YOU are your own Best Therapist!” and I really believe that. I’d rather see you treat yourself than even come to see me because I know you can do the treatments easily and, if needed, every day.
Wishing you well,