Bilateral Tinnitus and Pain: Essential Findings

tinnitus pain

5 Ways Tinnitus is Similar to Chronic Central Neurological Pain

1.  The severity of both are subjective and difficult to quantify.  The 1-10 pain scale is a common method for reporting pain in the medical field.

2.  Chronic central pain and tinnitus are both invisible diseases.  From an outsider’s perspective an affected individual looks normal.  Family members or doctors often do not understand how much an individual is in pain or how loud their tinnitus is.

3.  Both bilateral tinnitus and chronic central pain have similar associated symptoms involved with increased sensitivity.  Tinnitus patients may present with hyperacusis; abnormal sensitivity to noise.  Chronic central pain patients may have hypersensitivity for pain (observed with decreased pain threshold, exaggerated reaction, or abnormal reactions to normal touch).

4.  Both conditions can be modulated by one’s own perceptions toward the condition, emotions, and/or stress.  Non-classical pathways are involved in these cases, including at least the limbic system.

5.  The “wind-up” phenomenon is an increased sensitivity to pain after successive administration of the stimulus.  In tinnitus, this may present as excessive, repeated “ringing” which leads to an increased perceived intensity of the source.  The ‘Textbook of Tinnitus’ explains, the second trial of equal intensity is perceived as a larger intensity.  How does this occur with tinnitus?  This concept applies (somewhat) to the additive effects of tinnitus annoyance or loudness perception as a function of increased duration.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson is an audiologist in California and founder of Pure Tinnitus. Dr. Thompson has a comprehensive knowledge of tinnitus management. He completed his residency at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and is a past board member of the California Academy of Audiology. Via telehealth, Dr. Thompson provides services to patients with hearing loss and tinnitus.

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