First report showing benefit of spinal cord stimulation in tinnitus

From a case report that was published earlier this summer. The use of a spinal cord stimulator provided a patient with “near total relief of otalgia, total relief of tinnitus, and mild improvement in sensorineural hearing loss.”

How did it work? Will it work for you? What type of tinnitus does this work for?

Way too soon to even speculate.


If you want a good discussion topic, look at the last sentence in the abstract (quoted below):


Neuromodulation continues to grow in its scope and application in the relief of chronic and debilitating disorders. Both otalgia and tinnitus can be multifactorial in etiology, with diagnostic and treatment challenges. This is a case of spinal cord stimulator placement providing a patient with near total relief of otalgia, total relief of tinnitus, and mild improvement in sensorineural hearing loss. We believe that this is the first report showing benefit of high spinal cord stimulation in tinnitus, and we consider whether there are neuronal connections between upper cervical nerve roots and the auditory pathways.



Do neuronal connections between the upper cervical nerve roots and the auditory pathways exist?

For all tinnitus patients or just some (i.e. is it common or rare)?

Would people with this subtype of tinnitus be treatable with high spinal cord stimulation?

Could they expect the same “total relief” as the patient in the case study?

We don’t know yet.

But it sure is exciting to think about.

After all…

Wouldn’t it be nice if answering these research questions helped uncover a treatable “cervical nerve root” tinnitus subtype?

… all thanks to a case report that could have just as easily been forgotten?

Case reports are like tiny seeds.

If planted and watered enough, they can sometimes sprout into new research.

Your attention is the water.

Whenever you discuss a case report or ANY OTHER research topic or paper online… whenever you share it with others in the tinnitus community… whenever you post about it online…

You are watering that seed of an idea, helping it grow.

Then it can start to take root.

Other people notice.

They start to water it.

It becomes bigger, now with branches of its own… it becomes a ‘thing’ within the tinnitus community.

And then…

Researchers and the people who control the funding dollars [you know who you are, hi] begin to take notice. And while they might not comment*, they see it on their radar. The attention of the community is important. They monitor it. It is a factor they must consider.

* too busy reading My Posting Place?

It’s true.

The “voice of the patient” is an increasingly-important element of publicly funded projects and grant decisions.

You influence policy by sharing links to research and ideas with the community. I’m talking about places like Reddit (r/tinnitus and r/tinnitusresearch) and, of course, TinnitusTalk.

These forums are effectively a “public record” of research topics and things like views, comments, posts… are quietly becoming metrics that influence decisions and literally help researchers get grant money more easily.

Meanwhile, ideas and papers and topics that are NOT discussed by the community… certainly not helpful. Without a public record or the support of the “voice of the patient”, a paper or research topic could be totally ignored. Simply because it did not have enough people to vouch for it and those responsible for deciding what to fund understandably had no idea it was important to anyone.

So remember to pay attention and join the discussion somewhere because your share, your comment, your post… is a lot like a vote, and that will continue to become more and more relevant in the future.

One more thing…

Remember to subscribe to email updates so that you never miss exciting case reports like this spinal cord stimulation one… plus, some other exclusive tinnitus treatment-related updates that are ignored everywhere else. (COMMENT: the weekly newsletter digest is ALMOST READY and if you have submitted your email address you will get the first issue as soon as it is sent. Totally free, one email per week, no spam, privacy respected.)

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