Can Neck Injuries Affect Your Ears?

There are many possible causes to sudden hearing loss, and some of them could actually be related to injury or trauma in the upper region of the spine (known as the cervical spine) or around the neck area. In this blog article, we explore this connection further.

How Can Neck Trauma Affect Your Hearing Health?

The cervical spine makes up the first 7 vertebrae, which enclose and protect the soft nerve tissue that comprises the inner spinal cord, like a bony shield. Known as the neck, this portion of the spine begins right above the shoulder blades and terminates right at the skull, where it connects and supports. Many different systems compose this part of the spine, including muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints. Each of these structural systems also have nerves running through them, providing muscular control and the ability to perceive sensations to the skull and arms. So how can injury or trauma to the cervical spine (neck area) cause hearing problems such as sudden hearing loss, tinnitus, or vertigo?

Neck problems can be associated with hearing problems in three different ways:

  1. There can be a vascular problem that results from a narrowing of the vertebral arteries carrying blood up into the head. If this blood flow is compromised, sudden hearing loss may result.
  2. There can be neural cervical spine problems, which relate to irritation of the sympathetic nervous system that also has an effect on the inner workings of the ears.
  3. A combination of both arterial and neural can be the problem causing hearing loss symptoms.

Many studies have shown that these vascular and neural problems that lead to sudden hearing loss could all be the results of misalignment in the vertebrae of the cervical spine.

Hearing Loss Studies

A study conducted in 2015 sought out to determine if sudden hearing loss from cervical syndrome could be effectively treated by chiropractic adjustments to the spine. The study showed that by the end of the treatment period the group receiving chiropractic care showed remarkably better improvement of symptoms for their sudden hearing loss.

Another hearing loss study concluded that “upper cervical spine manipulation may have positively affected hearing loss and tinnitus associated with cervicogenic pain.

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