Background: In recent years, evidence has been accumulating linking subjective tinnitus to the somatosensory system. Somatic tinnitus is deﬁned as tinnitus in which forceful contractions of jaw and neck muscles modulate the psychoacoustic attributes of tinnitus, such as pitch and loudness. Being a somatosensory-based treatment modality, needling might well be more effective for treating somatic than nonsomatic tinnitus. Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes of electroacupuncture (EA) treatment between patients with somatic and nonsomatic tinnitus.
Materials and Methods: A single-blinded prospective study was carried wherein 27 patients with tinnitus were divided into either a somatic or a nonsomatic group, based on whether their tinnitus could be modulated by at least one of a series of forceful jaw and neck muscular contraction maneuvers. Tinnitus responses were evaluated after a single session of EA on selected acupoints for 30 minutes.
Results: Seventeen of the 27 patients (63.0%) studied were found to have somatic tinnitus. Generalized estimating equation model analysis did not ﬁnd any overall statistically signiﬁcant difference in EA response between patients with somatic and nonsomatic tinnitus. However, patients with somatic tinnitus who were consistent in their responses to the muscular contraction maneuvers were more likely to improve with EA than variable responders to these maneuvers (62.5% versus 22.0%).
Conclusions: EA did not provide increased beneﬁts for patients with somatic tinnitus, compared to those with nonsomatic tinnitus overall. However, within the somatic tinnitus group, a subpopulation of patients appeared to be relatively more responsive to EA treatment.