Tapping Technique For Temporary Tinnitus Relief

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Tapping For Tinnitus

Tinnitus affects over 30 million Americans and millions more worldwide. Most patients with tinnitus experience mild symptoms, and in some lucky cases, it goes away on its own. But for other patients, living with chronic tinnitus can sometimes feel like torture. Since there’s not yet a cure for tinnitus, patients sometimes feel hopeless and frustrated. The worst part is that these negative feelings can make their tinnitus worse.

While the experts work on the cure, patients are expected to manage their tinnitus with other therapies and techniques. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is the most effective treatment to date, but other techniques such as hearing aids, sound therapy, physical therapy, and special tinnitus tools/devices have been proven to provide long lasting relief for some patients experiencing tinnitus symptoms.

Many in the tinnitus community are willing to try any treatment option, even the more experimental and anecdotal ones. Like many tinnitus treatments, tapping isn’t guaranteed to work for everyone; but, there’s no harm in trying, and it may even provide some short term relief from your persistent tinnitus symptoms.

How To Tap Away Tinnitus

Dr. Ben explains tapping for tinnitus relief.

Many patients are surprised to learn that something so simple can be useful in managing their tinnitus symptoms. Only about half of the people who try this tapping technique for tinnitus experience a reduction in tinnitus volume for a few minutes. 

"As a recent graduate who’s achieved stage four habituation, I cannot thank Treble Health enough for getting me to the finish line."
"As a recent graduate who’s achieved stage four habituation, I cannot thank Treble Health enough for getting me to the finish line."
– Louis
Book a free consultation to learn which Treble Health solution is right for you. Join Louis and thousands more who have found lasting tinnitus relief.

The tapping technique won’t cure your tinnitus, and the sounds will eventually come back, but it can offer the temporary relief you need to complete a task, or finally get some sleep. 

Here’s how you can tap away your tinnitus:

Step 1: Rate Your Tinnitus Loudness

The first thing you need to do is write down the loudness of your tinnitus on a scale of 1 to 10. One means the tinnitus is very faint and doesn’t bother you, while a 10 means the tinnitus is very loud and is causing you distress. 

Step 2: Cover Your Ears With Your Hands And Position Your Fingers

Cup your hands to cover your ears. Your middle fingers should meet, or nearly meet below the ridge line at the back of your head, with your thumbs around your neck.

Step 3: Tap The Back Of Your Head

Place your index finger on top of your middle finger. Hold firmly, and gently move your pointer finger across/over your middle finger (similar to uncrossing your fingers), on the back of your head to create the tapping sound. Repeat this step 20 times. 

(If nothing happens, you can try again after about 5 seconds. Try this about 3 or 4 times until it activates your nervous system.)

How loud is your tinnitus now, on a scale of 1 to 10? Compare this with the figures from Step One after five minutes. Then, set a timer to see how long it takes for the tinnitus sound to return to the initial score.

Why It Might “Work” 

The area your fingers tap at the back of your head is called the suboccipital area. The suboccipital area is more than just skin at the back of your head – it’s a group of four small muscles that connect the base of the skull to the top vertebrae of the neck. This helps to make head and neck movement possible, and it also happens to be just over the hearing nerve. Like all muscles, they can get tense or become fatigued. 

Mouthguard for TMJ

Somatic tinnitus is a special type of tinnitus caused by head/neck trauma, or muscle tightness. Usually, the solution to somatic tinnitus involves treating the cause of the instability in the head/neck region. Common treatments for somatic tinnitus include mouthguards (fit by a TMJ doctor or dentist), botox, and physical therapy. At Treble Health, we recommend approaching somatic tinnitus with an osteopathic evaluation involving a thorough analysis of the cervical spine (neck region) to find the most suitable treatment approach.

The running theory is that tapping this area may help relieve tension in the suboccipital muscles, thus reducing tinnitus loudness. Vice presents an alternate theory: the tapping technique works for patients with conductive hearing devices because these devices happen to be anchored in the suboccipital area. This theory suggests the (bone) vibrations bypass the damaged parts of the ear and mask the tinnitus sound at the cochlea. However, conductive hearing loss is relatively rare in the tinnitus community. The tapping technique also seems to work for patients who don’t have this or any kind of hearing loss. 

The problem with the tapping technique for tinnitus is that it doesn’t work for everyone, and the relief is temporary. There is no proof that this head tapping is more effective at relieving tension in the suboccipital muscle than a massage, or physical therapy for somatic tinnitus. The most likely case is that the tapping triggers a phenomenon known as ‘residual inhibition’. 

Residual Inhibition 

Residual inhibition is something many tinnitus patients experience the first time they are evaluated by an audiologist. It is best described as “transient tinnitus loudness suppression after exposure to an acoustic stimulus.”  In other words, when another sound is presented against the tinnitus, suddenly, and for a brief period afterwards, the tinnitus sound stops! This cessation of tinnitus can last a few seconds to a few minutes but can be so wonderful for those who experience persistent tinnitus symptoms.

During the evaluation, the pitch of the tinnitus is measured to get a general idea of its frequency or pitch, usually between 4000Hz-8000 Hz. Patients are then exposed to a targeted band of white noise, or a high pitch noise around the same frequency for about 60 seconds. This typically triggers a temporary reduction in tinnitus loudness, but unfortunately, it isn’t permanent. 

There isn’t all bad news though. It proves that sound therapy, when used effectively, can influence tinnitus loudness and severity. Patients can also experience residual inhibition through muscle relaxation techniques. 

Long-term Tinnitus Treatment

When tinnitus symptoms occur due to an underlying health condition, the best way to treat them is by addressing the condition itself. This can mean lifestyle changes, medication, and even surgery. 

Many patients with tinnitus find relief from hearing devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants. In fact, when patients complain about ringing in the ears, a hearing test is one of the first evaluations performed. But, since hearing loss isn’t the only cause of tinnitus, it may not be the only one patients undergo. Treating tinnitus is more difficult when the cause of tinnitus is unknown, however, many patients find that a long-term tinnitus treatment plan can help manage tinnitus symptoms and greatly improve quality of life. 

Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is the gold standard for tinnitus treatment. It combines traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or talk therapy, and sound therapy, to address the psychological effects of tinnitus. Over time, this is expected to reduce the reaction to tinnitus symptoms and make it more manageable. 

It’s still too soon to tell if experimental therapies such as bimodal stimulation, biofeedback, and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) are effective long-term tinnitus treatment approaches. Tinnitus can also seemingly disappear on its own, but it can also worsen when ignored. The best option is always to consult a tinnitus specialist. 

Manage Tinnitus with the Treble Health Team 

Doctor speaking with a patient

If tapping doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. With every case we come across, we understand that tinnitus symptoms and experiences can differ significantly. The experts at Treble Health can recommend a tinnitus treatment plan customized to your needs, and lifestyle. 

If you’re in search of lasting tinnitus relief, we encourage you to schedule a complimentary telehealth consultation with an audiologist on our team. During this consultation, you will have the chance to talk about your case, ask any questions that you may have, and learn about the treatment options that would best address your personal situation. To start your journey towards a life without bothersome tinnitus, click here.

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