Pain-free Living Blog with Julie Donnelly

Tinnitus Causes, Dizziness, Ears Ringing, and Nausea

By Julie Donnelly – The Pain-Relief Expert

Tinnitus Causes and Treatment

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 the muscular tinnitus causes and treatment to the attention of the readers of this blog.

Sternocleidomastoid muscle frequently is the cause of tinnitus

There are neurological causes of tinnitus, none of which will be address here. However, the tinnitus cause that is frequently overlooked by the medical professionals is how a muscle impacts the bones of the ear.

There is a muscle called sternocleidomastoid (SCM for short) that causes not only tinnitus, dizziness, ears ringing, and nausea, 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.

How Does a Muscle Cause Tinnitus?

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, they cause  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.

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 muscles can cause tinnitus, or 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 when I squeezed his SCM, 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 tinnitus 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 is 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 tinnitus or any other 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 Treat the Cause of Tinnitus!

You can release this tension in just about all of the muscles in your body, it isn’t hard. I’ve written many books that address specific problems, including the muscles that cause tinnitus. For all of these symptoms, you discover how to treat the SCM, and other muscles that cause aches and pains in your body, by reading Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living.

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,

Posted by Julie Donnelly in Julie's Notes and tagged , , , , , , , , .


13 Responses to Tinnitus Causes, Dizziness, Ears Ringing, and Nausea

  1. kristy: July 24, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Great information! I have passed this link on to readers of my newsletter the “Tinnitus Insider”.

    To learn more join others and find relief => Stop The Ringing

  2. Julie Donnelly: July 25, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks Kristy. It’s so important for people to get the full story, I appreciate that you’re helping to spread the word that releasing the muscles will frequently solve tinnitus and other ear pains.

  3. Nancy: July 28, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I have been suffering with tinnitus in the right ear and headaches for 4 years now. I had surgery May 10, 2010 to fuse C4-C6 (they were herniated) to hopefully take care of the pain. Not much has changed. Found information about sternocleido mastoid strain or syndrome and feel this might have something to do with what is going on. Please help in any way possible. I am desperate and depressed. I want to feel better. 🙁

  4. Julie Donnelly: July 29, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Nancy,

    Did you read the thread on this blog about tinnitus? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this whole thing wasn’t coming from tension in your SCM (sternocleidomastoid). The thread will explain it. Plus, if you go to my website you can read all about repetitive strain injuries and how they cause a multitude of problems, including everything you are describing. If you get my eBook, Treat Yourself to Pain Free Living you can learn how to treat your SCM and all of your other neck/shoulder muscles. The odds are good this will help you tremendously.

  5. Marcy Derouin: April 9, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    This I need to try, I was going to school for massage therapy in 2013 when I out of the blue got that

  6. Julie Donnelly: April 11, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Hi Marcy. Yes, do give it a go as the techniques have helped so many people. I hope that when you get relief you’ll join this helping field again, it’s so fulfilling to give people pain relief. If you do re-enter massage school, and if you’d like to learn how to specialize in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries, please feel free to contact me and we can talk about how you can become certified in Julstro Muscular Therapy. Good Luck!

  7. Jimmy Mcconnell: February 25, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    I have horrible tinnitus, now dizziness, and some nausea. Can you help me?

  8. Julie Donnelly: February 28, 2017 at 1:56 am

    Hi Jimmy

      Tinnitus is a mixed problem that is sometimes helped with treating a muscle called sternocleidomastoid (SCM for short). When this muscle is tight it will pull on the bone behind your ear (the mastoid bone) and cause a misalignment of the tiny bones of the ear. This will cause the buzzing of tinnitus. However, there are many other causes of tinnitus that have nothing to do with muscles. The odds are that nobody is going to look at the SCM as a possible cause for your tinnitus and the nausea that comes from a shift in your equilibrium (which can also be caused by a tight SCM). I suggest you eliminate the muscular possibility before you go for a series of expensive tests. If it works, than that’s great and you saved a lot of money. If it doesn’t work you’ll need to search further, but at least you would know that muscles aren’t a part of the problem. With all of this said, I can teach you how to self-treat the SCM muscle. The treatment is in several of the products I sell, especially in my book “Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living.” It isn’t hard to do, but it is very specific and you need to be aware of your carotid artery that passes next to the center of this muscle.

      Wishing you well,

  9. Patricia: May 2, 2017 at 12:50 am

    I suffered a terrible whiplash injury on a roller coaster in March, 2016. I was momentarily left unconscious. My tinnitus (a very high pitch hissing noise) did not begin until October 2016, but it’s been constant ever since (with an occasional full day of blessed peace and quiet). I have extreme tightness on the left side of my neck that causes headaches at the left rear of my scalp. I’ve been to my PCP, 2 ENTs, an upper cervical spine chiropractor, a neurologist, a pain management specialist, and I am now undergoing physical therapy. I’m so tired of that “deer in the headlights” look coming from all of these medical people. They just take my money and send me out the door, still suffering. When I tilt my head to the right, the muscle (on the left side of my neck) feels very tight and the high pitch ringing increases in my left ear, but I do not get the same effect when tilting my head to the left, only stiffness on the left side of my neck. Should I ask my physical therapist to focus on my SCM muscles? I’ve got 7 more sessions scheduled and really, really want the tinnitus GONE along with the muscle tightness and headaches. Many thanks!

  10. Julie Donnelly: May 2, 2017 at 1:50 am

    Hi Patricia,

    Yes, I suggest you have your PT focus on treating your SCM, and that you also treat it yourself. If you have my book, “Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living,” you’ll find the pictures and description for the self-treatment in the chapter for the neck. It’s not difficult, and it’s best if you learn how to do it since you won’t always have your PT there. From the sounds of your letter I think you’ll be quite successful because you get pitch and sound changes as you are moving your head about. If it were a structural or nerve-damage problem I don’t think moving your head would make a difference. I suggest you do all of the treatments in the head, neck, and upper back chapters so you can address every muscle that can cause headaches.

    Wishing you well,

  11. Patricia: May 2, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Thank you so much, Julie, I appreciate your reply. I will definitely buy your book and put it to good use. Thanks again and I wish you a wonderful day.

  12. declan: July 3, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    i have just been reading the previous remarks and im wondering is there any hope for me! i am experiencing increasing instances of dizziness and nausea brought on as my left ear feels like it closes down and exhibits a solid high pitched tone such as you would have when the screen saver comes on after a tv station closes down for the night!all i can do is stay as still as posssible until it passes after maybe five minutes. my lifestyle would probably involve not going to bed early enough and then getting up too early in the mornings due to me and the wife raising a toddler and a newborn plus my occupation. i was starting to think it was cardiac related or vertigo but ive been for various tests and all have come up clear. i would love to hear your opinion on my situation. yours in desperation!

  13. Julie Donnelly: July 12, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Declan,

    I imagine you have already had your physician look for medical reasons for the loud tone, but I doubt that they looked at muscles as a cause for the sound. There is a muscle called Sternocleidomastoid (SCM for short) that originates on your collarbone and inserts into the bone just behind your ear (the mastoid bone). When this muscle is in spasm it will cause pressure to be put onto the bone and this upsets the alignment of the tiny bones in your ear.

    I’ve had several clients get 100% relief by treating this muscle. It’s a bit tricky to do it because your carotid artery passes through the center of the muscle so you need to avoid the artery. You can treat it by putting pressure along your collarbone (clavicle), and then close to your ear. If you can’t figure it out, I suggest you take a look at my book “Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living.”

    Wishing you well,

Leave a Reply