The School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) summarised clinical observations on acupuncture treatment of tinnitus conducted over the past three years and found skeletal muscle trigger points to be closely related to the problem of tinnitus. A new acupuncture therapy integrated with modern medication was applied on those trigger points and resulted in an efficacy rate of 91 per cent. Mainly adopted in somatosensory tinnitus, this treatment could also help alleviate accompanying problems such as shoulder pain, neck pain and headache, and was found to be more effective than traditional acupuncture treatment of tinnitus. Dr. Peng Zengfu of the Clinical Division, SCM, explained his clinical observations to the media today (17 April). Two tinnitus patients also shared their treatment process. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, tinnitus is a symptomatic condition closely related to the spleen, kidney, liver and gall bladder. Tinnitus patients usually suffer from a self-perception of sound or noise that originates in the ear or head without an acoustic external stimulus. The severity tends to increase when patients are located in quiet place, are fatigued or under stress. Patients with this illness normally feel anxious and depressed and have insufficient sleep and short attention spans. Daily work and social life are also affected in extreme cases. Somatosensory tinnitus is found in patients with muscle spasm arising from improper movement in the head, neck or mouth. The severity of the condition is alleviated or aggravated depending on different body postures or movement. Dr. Peng Zengfu conducted consultations with 68 tinnitus patients, with an average age of 47, from January 2010 to March 2013. Among the 30 females and 38 males, 32 cases had tinnitus in the left ear, 25 cases on the right side and 11 cases on both sides. The illness period ranged from two weeks to 30 years. All patients also suffered from accompanying symptoms like shoulder pain, neck pain or headache. Chinese medicine practitioners applied the acupuncture therapy on trigger points according to the patients’ condition. Traditional acupuncture treatment on acupoints was also adopted on an individual basis. After the treatment was completed, 9 patients were found to be fully recovered while an obvious curative effect was observed in 53 cases. An overall efficacy rate of 91 per cent was achieved. Dr. Peng Zengfu said traditional acupuncture treatment of tinnitus is conducted according to the patients’ physique and illness whereas the new therapeutic treatment mainly focuses on the skeletal muscle trigger points that cause painful sensations. Dr. Peng explained that there are around 255 trigger points over a human body and each of them triggers a specific set of painful sensations. When the point is pressed or palpated, patients feel tenderness, pain or even encounter local muscle spasms. Other symptoms like dizziness, tinnitus, diarrhea and cough could also arise. A study showed that a correlation between tinnitus manifestation and trigger points in which the intensity of tinnitus was reduced after the palpation of related trigger points in about 56 per cent of somatosensory tinnitus patients. In conclusion, Dr. Peng said that the two main causes affecting the efficacy of acupuncture treatment on tinnitus were the accompanying symptoms and the area affected by tinnitus. He said patients with obvious shoulder pain, neck pain or headache or with tinnitus on one side would gain better results from the new acupuncture therapy. Overall, the treatment was found to be more effective than traditional acupuncture treatment of tinnitus and could help improve accompanying problems such as shoulder pain, neck pain and headache.
Dr. Peng Zengfu (centre) explains his clinical observations on acupuncture treatment of tinnitus with the two patients