By : Barbara Keddy
“Limitations only go so far”, Robert M.Hensel
Hearing loss appears to be common after a prolonged history of fibromyalgia.
It seems as though sensorineural hearing loss, that is, loss that is due to damage to the inner ear auditory nerve pathways to the brain, occurs more frequently in fibromyalgia than has been reported. Not hearing lovely sounds like that of this wonderful children’s group can have devastating effects on a person’s morale as with most deaf people, but added to which is the physical pain of fibromyalgia. It stands to reason that the tension and anxiety that goes hand and hand with fibromyalgia would result in jaw clenching, teeth grinding and tightened neck muscles, thereby affecting, among other muscles and nerves, the 7th cranial nerve which supplies all the muscles of the face
Many have written to ask me if TMJ (Temporomandibular Disorder) is common with fibromyalgia. TMJ results in the joint (that slides and rotates just in front of the ear) twisting during opening, closing or side motion movements. The challenges that occur can be sensitive teeth (no doubt why so many of us have unexplained tooth pain) and earaches. The jaw muscles with myofascial discomfort refer the pain to the teeth and ears, and can even cause headaches.
The main nerve for the jaw joint is attached to the TMJ disk so that when it is compressed it tightens nerve and blood vessels around the ear and temple , especially if one has stiff neck muscles. Sometimes ringing in the ears (tinnitus) is a common complaint as well.
I have no proof of all of this and I admit to speculation as I am not an audiologist and I have not seen it written or described elsewhere but I have a strong intuition that this is the case for people with fibromyalgia who have increasing low frequency hearing loss. Often background noise, and/or many people talking in a room results in great sensitivity to noise in people with this type of hearing loss.
This is just one more challenge for those of us who grind our teeth, absorb tension in our necks and jaws and suffer from headaches and earaches. Another reason for us to educate our health care professionals and especially our dentists and dental assistants that fibromyalgia does not leave a nerve in our bodies at peace! Furthermore, hearing loss impacts on our daily lives and our personal relationships. Hopefully we will hear more about the complexity of hearing loss and fibromyalgia in the near future.